Every day, 200, 300, 500, maybe a 1,000 cuts.
It’s a good life for Jadon Arakaki at the batting cage. His father, former ‘Iolani baseball coach Jay Arakaki, runs Hawaiian Hardball on Young Street, and Jadon gets to swing. For free.
The attention to detail showed on Wednesday morning at the Hawaii Sandlot Classic. Arakaki faced three different pitchers and went 2-for-2 with a walk, RBI double, a run and a stolen base as Team ‘Ekahi defeated Team ‘Elua 7-2 in the opening game of the tourney.
Arakaki, a 6-foot outfielder/designated hitter, hit the ball with authority. He has two offers from colleges so far, and is in contact with many schools across the country. He has a 3.5 grade-point average.
“Cal Poly, San Diego, LMU, UH, Fordham, Sacramento State, USF, and a few other California schools,” he said. “I post videos every week (to Twitter). I try to text (coaches), too. I have two offers, but I’d rather not say (who).”
Team ‘Ekahi is coached by former Hawaii catcher Robert Medeiros. The event began with a showcase on Tuesday, and continues with eight teams in four games each day, concluding on Friday. Player information and scouting reports are on Twiiter.
Tommy Tereschuk, a 6-foot-2 right-hander from Radford, went two scoreless innings and threw 35 pitches for the win. He was clocked at 92-93 mph, striking out four, walking two and permitting two hits.
“The upside is real crazy with that guy. Real raw,” said Classic organizer Ikaika Du Pont.
On a sunny day at Hans L’Orange Park, Arakaki had a near-perfect performance.
“I’ve just been trying to work on squaring up the ball more consistently. Work on my timing. Timing is a huge thing,” the 6-foot senior-to-be said.
Arakaki faced ‘Iolani teammate Aisea Ahokovi first. Ahokovi walked Arakaki on four pitches.
With two runners on base in the third inning, Arakaki faced a new pitcher and went after the first pitch.
“I don’t know why, but they were throwing a lot in, I don’t know why,” he said. “That was the Kailua pitcher. I got out in front so I topped it a little bit.”
Arakaki, a lefty, pounded the fastball over the right fielder’s head to drive in a run. He would’ve had a triple, but had to hold up at second base with a baserunner ahead of him.
He singled in the sixth and stole second base, and was stranded on third.
“That was Tyrus Viela. He goes to Kalani,” Arakaki said of the pitcher. “I think that was the first pitch. He throws in the 80s with his fastball and he has a pretty good slider.”
Arakaki was the DH on Wednesday. Once the Sandlot Classic is over, it’ll be hours of joy in the cage at his dad’s shop. Who knows, he might be there right now in between games.
“It’s a half hour for the pitching machine. You get a lot of cuts, around 200,” Arakaki said. “Right now, we can only have one at a time.”
When he’s in the cage, dad is there with him, working their craft.
“I try to do something every day. I want to thank my dad for working with me every day. He always wants to help me get better. Coach Kirt Miyahira, my high school coach, he’s been helping me with a lot of schools, getting a lot of looks thanks to him. Coach Bu, Brandon Toro of Kamehameha, he’s been doing the same thing, helping me get looks,” Arakaki said. “Kenny Patton. He works with my speed. I go there every week. Trenton Teruya and Darin Yap, they help me with my strength.”
Arakaki’s favorite players are Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ken Griffey Jr.
“I like Ronald Acuna right now. Outfield, he’s pretty similar to me, and he goes the other way and hits opposite field with power,” he said. “My dad and I, we watch a lot of Ken Griffey Jr., his swings. Try to imitate him. He sprayed the ball to all fields. He had choke talent and he stays in the zone for a super long time. He has a super high chance of hitting the ball.”
The concept of high school baseball this school year isn’t far off. Most teams had teams in American Legion this summer. The possibility of lower-risk sports like baseball switching to fall seems to be off the table across the nation, though Punahou coach Keenan Sue is a supporter of the idea — especially after the spring season was cancelled.
“It’s a pretty good idea, I think. Football and basketball, they’re basically touching each other the whole game. That would be pretty smart,” he said.
Matt Campos, a former standout at ‘Iolani and current infielder for Hawaii, has seen a lot of Arakaki’s batting-cage swings.
“To be honest, it’s pretty simple and snappy. That’s where we were hitting together, pretty much the entire break. I’ve seen the guy develop, getting called up to varsity mainly as a pitcher. The outfield was stacked, but he really developed over the years,” said Campos, who helped out at the Sandlot Classic as a scoreboard operator.
There’s also this about Arakaki.
“He’s throwing up to 92 mph in OBL (Oahu Baseball League),” Campos added. “But he’s not pitching (here).”