The 2016 Major League Baseball draft runs June 9-11.
KHON2, along with a handful of anonymous MLB scouts, coaches, and baseball analysts compiled a MLB Draft Top 10 list for Hawaii prospects.
Hawaii’s Top 10 MLB Draft Prospects
1. Brandon Bonilla – LHP – Hawai’i Pacific
The 6’4″ 215 lb. senior will hope that the third time in the MLB draft is a charm. Bonilla was selected in the 37th round out of IMG Academy (FL) by the Marlins in 2011, and in the 25th round by the Baltimore Orioles out of Grand Canyon University (AZ) in 2014. The strong-framed left handed hurler ran his fastball up to 98 miles-per-hour this spring, generally sitting in the 90-94 MPH range. He features a sharp curve ball that helped him break the HPU record for saves in a season with 12 in 2016. Command consistency has been an issue for the projectable prospect. Bonilla is the son of former six-time All-Star outfielder Bobby Bonilla, and the godson of all-time home run king Barry Bonds. In a dominant 2016 campaign with the Sharks, Bonilla only allowed one earned run in 25.1 innings of work while striking out 38 hitters.
2. Jordan Kurokawa – RHP – Hawai’i-Hilo
Kurokawa was a late bloomer for the Vulcans. The 6’3″ 181 pound senior came into UH Hilo as an unheralded recruit out of Maryknoll, who added strength, velocity, and command to turn himself into a prospect. Kurokawa features a good fastball that sits in the 90-93 MPH range. The Honolulu native was clocked at 92 MPH in the 9th inning of a complete game shutout of UH Manoa in February. His stat line featured a 2.96 earned run average in 67 innings pitched with 67 strikeouts in 2016.
3. Christian Donahue – INF – Oregon State (‘Iolani)
Many were surprised this spring when news spread that Donahue would be draft eligible as a true sophomore at Oregon State in 2016. Donahue is 21-years-old, meaning he can be selected this year. The former ‘Iolani standout backed up his prestigious Team USA participation in high school this season at Oregon State, earning first team All-Pac-12 honors. The Beaver infielder posted a .339 batting average while hitting in one of the nation’s best conferences. The 5’7″ 172 pounder also packed a punch on offense by clubbing 11 doubles, 5 triples, and a home run with 29 runs batted in. With two years of eligibility left, signability questions concern some scouts.
4. L.J. Kalawaia – OF – University of North Carolina-Greensboro (Saint Louis)
Kalawaia spent his senior season of high school at Saint Louis, but grew up on Maui and attended Lahainaluna for three years. The UNC-Greensboro senior was fantastic in 2016, earning first team Southern Conference accolades. The left-handed outfielder flashes elite speed, clocking a 6.60 second 60-yard dash time. The tools translate to the plate, where Kalawaia slugged .396 with 11 doubles, 6 triples, and 6 home runs while driving in 65 runs for the Spartans. Kalawaia could be a steal of a senior sign for many Major League teams.
5. Rick Nomura – INF – Arkansas (Punahou)
Nomura had a fantastic career at Arkansas, where he led the Razorbacks to a College World Series birth in 2015. The senior infielder flashes excellent bat control, only striking out 48 times in 383 career at-bats in college baseball’s best conference. Nomura hit .272 with 19 extra-base-hits in 2016, including 4 home runs. Nomura is the son of former University of Hawai’i star Ron Nomura.
6. Pikai Winchester – INF – Central Arizona (‘Iolani)
Winchester was widely regarded as the best high school hitter to come out of Hawai’i in the class of 2015, and the Central Arizona freshman backed that up by hitting .399 with 15 doubles, a triple, and 4 home runs in 2016. Winchester was drafted out of ‘Iolani last year by the Rays in the 40th round, but he elected to attend college. The smooth-swinging lefty has power potential in his 5’10” 190 pound frame.
7. Kingsley Ballao – OF – Maui High
Maui outfield prospect Kingsley Ballao is an enigma to many scouts that KHON2 contacted. Despite very quick hands, power, and speed offensively that has generated MLB interest, Ballao struggled at the plate in his senior season. The athletic 6’1″ 195 pound left-handed hitter was diagnosed with astigmatism that affected his ability to pick up the ball while hitting. Corrective lenses helped Ballao turn things around later in the year, and he was rewarded with an invitation to a pre-draft workout with the San Diego Padres. Ballao is committed to Fresno State University. Don’t be surprised to see a team fall in love with his abilities and take him earlier than expected.
8. Jacob Sheldon-Collins – INF – University of Hawai’i
Sheldon-Collins came into head coach Mike Trapasso’s program with the expectations of becoming a defensive stalwart, but wowed many with an offensive prowess that saw him hit .349 in 2016. The smooth-fielding, switch-hitting shortstop helped himself offensively by adding 10 pounds of muscle to his 5’11” 185 pound frame. Sheldon-Collins is widely praised for his above average leadership and character, making him valuable as a captain of the infield. The senior was very difficult for pitchers to put away in 2016, only striking out 17 times in 195 at bats while facing some of the top pitching staffs in the nation.
9. Marcus Doi – OF – University of Hawai’i
Doi struggled at times offensively for the Rainbow Warriors in 2016, hitting .255. Doi’s biggest problems have been with an injury bug, where a sports hernia sidelined him for 55 games in his first two seasons. He still flashes power and speed when he is hitting well. Doi was drafted in the 25th round by the Chicago Cubs out of Mid Pacific in 2013.
10. Kyle Von Ruden – RHP – University of Hawai’i
Von Ruden was a pleasant surprise for the Rainbow Warriors in 2016, as the senior right-hander took over the reigns of ace of the staff midway through the season. Von Ruden rode a strong sinking fastball that sits from 86-90 MPH to a 7-2 record, and a 3.09 ERA in 102 innings pitched. The Big West conference recognized the Sacramento native with All-Big West honors. Von Ruden is a fringe prospect due to his velocity, but his sinker, offspeed pitch ability, and fastball command could make teams interested late in the draft.