Major leagues are scouting Hawaii talent

Waipahu shortstop Kobie Russell is being scouted by the majors potentially as a catcher, according to Marauders coach Milton Takenaka. Jay Metzger / Special to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Waipahu shortstop Kobie Russell is being scouted by the majors potentially as a catcher, according to Marauders coach Milton Takenaka. Jay Metzger / Special to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Major league scouts don’t announce themselves when they show up to a Hawaii high school baseball game and they don’t wear a badge identifying who they are.

But they are here in Hawaii this spring checking out a handful of talented players and bringing back their reports to the big clubs.

Many Hawaii fans are already aware of the MLB scouts’ interest in Kailua left-handed pitcher Joey Cantillo and Kamehameha right-hander Hunter Breault.


But the scouting has not been limited to those two.

Cole Cabrera, shown in a game for Punahou against Saint Louis, has blazing speed and drawing keen interest from major league scouts, according to Buffanblu coach Keenan Sue.
Cole Cabrera, shown in a game for Punahou against Saint Louis, has blazing speed and drawing keen interest from major league scouts, according to Buffanblu coach Keenan Sue.
Campbell's Markus Ramos is committed to play for Oregon, but pro scouts have their eye on him, too. Dennis Oda / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Campbell’s Markus Ramos is committed to play for Oregon, but pro scouts have their eye on him, too. Dennis Oda / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Campbell righty Markus Ramos, Aiea shortstop Kobe Kato, Waipahu shortstop Kobie Russell and Punahou centerfielder Cole Cabrera are among those getting MLB looks. And there may be others getting scouted that we don’t know about.

Na Alii coach Ryan Kato gave us the lowdown on his son, Kobe.

“Kobe has gotten a lot more physical from last year to this year and it’s because he spent so much time in the weight room,” coach Kato said. “He was trying to bulk up and get stronger for a college career and opened eyes with the pro scouts. They like his size (6 feet, 170 pounds) and speed and arm strength. He was maybe 150 last year, and even though he’s bigger, he maintained his speed.”

The scouts are looking at Kato — who also pitches for Na Alii — as an infielder, not necessarily as a shortstop only.

Aiea's Kobe Kato, a University of Arizona commit, has had two home visits by major league scouts. Krystle Marcellus / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Aiea’s Kobe Kato, a University of Arizona State commit, has had two home visits by major league scouts. Krystle Marcellus / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Kato is committed to play for the University of Arizona and will play there if he goes the college route instead of the pros right away.

Ryan Kato said Kobe filled out questionnaires for the Cubs, Phillies, Royals, Yankees, Blue Jays and Braves, and the Blue Jays and Braves made a home visit.

Marauders coach Milton Takenaka talked about the scouting of Russell.


“He had a workout (recently) with a Diamonbacks scout,” Takenaka said. “The Toronto Blue Jays were here, and San Diego Padres, and one other scout, about four of them. Kobe went with Duane Eldredge‘s Team Aloha (traveling) team to Arizona last summer and got noticed. He had a good tournament and got some kind of a look out there.”

Russell had an oral commitment to Hawaii as a junior, but has since decommitted, according to Takenaka, who added that other colleges, including USC, have shown an interest.

“The scouts are projecting him to be a catcher,” Takenaka said. “In the offseason, he was working behind the plate, but he’s not playing there in high school. He’s playing where we need him most. He can make it as a catcher; he has the tools. He’s a real good kid, a hard worker who will listen.”

Cabrera’s biggest ticket to pro baseball is his speed.

“Cole is probably one of if not the fastest guys in the league and possibly the state” Punahou coach Keenan Sue said. “When they go to these showcases, the measuring stick is 60 yards for baseball and he runs a sub-6.5 seconds. That’s major league speed. And from home to first, he runs a sub-4 seconds, and for a right-hander that is blazing. They (the pros) want him for that. He also has a great arm and is deadly accurate. He’s part of a disciplined outfield for us that doesn’t let runners advance and can keep runners off of second base.”

Sue said Cabrera has signed to play for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but that he will also probably get drafted.

Campbell coach Rory Pico said scouts have contacted him about Ramos and some of them came to see the pitcher for preseason games and at ‘Iolani tournament gams.


Ramos signed to pitch for Oregon, where he will play if he doesn’t go pro.

“He’s having a good year so far,” Pico said. “He throws multiple pitches for strikes and that makes him tough.”

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