Not everyone has a player who has a magnetic effect on radar guns and the scouts that hoist them up.
That’s what the seventh-ranked Kamehameha Warriors (2-1) are getting used to this spring thanks to ace Hunter Breault. The 6-foot-2 right-hander was solid last season as a junior on a talented, young team. This year, his fastball, which used to hit the mid-80s, now pops between 89 and 92 mph. That’s what a scout said on Tuesday as Breault opened a start against No. 3 Punahou with a superior collection of heaters, sliders and change-ups. it was that backdoor fastball coupled with a devastating slider that made him impossible to pinpoint.
The changeup is a work of labor and a work of art by Breault (pronounced ‘Bro’). Pitching coach Jayson Kramer saw the pitch working beautifully in the bullpen before the game, and he called it enough times to make Punahou’s batters walk out of the box in a state of flux.
The eight strikeouts with one walk, no runs and just two base hits in five innings of work — a very efficient 67 pitches — are just part of the daily routine. Breault is first on the mound and last to leave when post-game clean-up ensues.
“He’s so engaged in everything. I always want to keep him in there,” Warriors coach Tommy Perkins said. “He’s our main guy (on the rake). He’s our firecracker and takes everyone under his wing.”
That’s an awfully large wing for a Kamehameha team that improved to 2-1 with the 8-2 win over Punahou.
“We started a little slow in preseason, trying to find our guys who will pitch. We took our time,” Perkins said. “Coach (Kramer) is doing a fantastic job. He changed a few things. It wasn’t easy at first, but now there’s buy-in from everyone on the (pitching) staff. They’re seeing the fruits of their labor. It’s amazing.”
The Warriors go roughly eight or nine deep on the mound, which is a luxury. It isn’t quite the 13 hurlers Punahou had back in its dynasty years, but it is more than sufficient. After Breault left the game, tall, lanky Kamaha‘o Arita took the mound and allowed one run in one inning, but was impressive nonetheless, fanning cleanup hitter Kyson Donahue to end the game in a shortened six innings. Coach Perkins raves about his arms, including freshman Javyn Pimental.
All the work and talent at the rubber has made life behind the plate a bit busier — and tougher — for catcher Dylan Salcedo. Not that he’s complaining.
“I’ve been catching for Hunter since seventh grade,” the senior said.
This season, he acquired a new mitt, a Wilson A2000, and added a thumb guard. That’s what taking 92-mph fastballs will do. The attention from MLB scouts is another welcome change.
“It’s good for everyone on the team,” Salcedo said. “They’re looking at everyone so it’s an extra opportunity for us.”
“Dylan’s always been there for me. He’s used to the velocity. He knows my bad times and good,” Breault said.
For Breault, who actually dropped 10 pounds while getting stronger — and grew one inch — during the offseason, the work doesn’t end. He often did his own workouts after conditioning with the team during the offseason. He has cut fat from his diet, does the usual long toss and band routine. He will be at Oregon next season, pending the results of the MLB draft.
“With the scouts, it’s not normal, but I can focus on my pitches,” he said, the last to leave the field aside from his father, Lucien, and his sixth-grade teacher, who doesn’t miss a game.
With that, Breault — pronounced “Bro” — grabbed his bag and sprinted off to catch his teammates.