By now, most Hawaii high school baseball fans know that Campbell right-hander Ian Kahaloa is being scouted by all 30 major league teams.
The senior has been close to unhittable so far this season, and there’s been plenty of talk about his prospects at the next level.
Most of the scouts who have filled the press boxes with their radar guns at the various OIA West fields to see Kahaloa have been told by their teams to not speak with the press, but the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii Prep World found one who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
When asked if he was the one who discovered Sidd Finch for the New York Mets (the phenom who was written about so gloriously in the April 1, 1985, issue of Sports Illustrated), the scout balked.
But he does know all about Kahaloa.
“For one thing, he’s got a good fastball and a pretty good slider,” he said about the Sabers’ ace. “He has a long arm and body and is still projectable. Easily, well hopefully, he projects to throw even harder the more he matures.”
And just how hard does Kahaloa throw now? Sometimes, the radar gun numbers get blown out of proportion as the information is passed from person to person.
“The fastest I’ve clocked him at is 95 miles an hour,” the scout said. “And that was early in the preseason. During the regular season, there’s been a little drop off to about 92.”
The lower number could be due to many factors, including trying for more control now that the more important games are here, and conserving himself so he can go more innings.
“And he might not be getting enough innings,” the scout added. “Campbell has about five guys who can pitch and the coach wants to get them in there.”
So, how high will Kahaloa go in the draft?
“If you’re going purely from a talent standpoint, then he should go pretty high,” the scout said. “It could be as high as the top five (of 40) rounds (of the June draft).”
The scout was up front about how teams go about trying to land players.
“There are so many ways teams can spend their money, so there is a lot of posturing and negotiating,” he said. “Parents putting a dollar figure on their sons’ head is one of the toughest things for families. Our job as scouts is to sign them as cheaply as possible. It’s like buying a car. You are always looking to spend less.”
The scout also said “signability” is a factor in how high a player is drafted.
“They might decide to pass on a player if they think it will take too much (time, energy, money) to sign him,” he added.
If he decides to play college baseball instead of going pro, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Kahaloa plans to play for the University of Hawaii. He also has an adviser who will guide him through the process of dealing with the team that drafts him.
“Ian is a pretty quiet kid,” the scout said. “But you can tell that he’s confident in his abilities. He knows he’s good, but he doesn’t act like it. He’s not arrogant.
“He helped himself a lot by playing in various mainland showcases (including the Arizona Fall Classic). Scouts noticed him there and made notes that they had to come to see him in Hawaii. He did what he was supposed to do to generate interest.”