By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Waiakea senior-to-be Kodi Medeiros attended the Perfect Game National Showcase in Minnesota last week, and more than matched the talent level at what’s considered the most prestigious showcase event, putting himself into the national spotlight.
Perfect Game managing editor Patrick Elbert filed a glowing report on Medeiros, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound left-hander.
“Medeiros kicked off the event with arguably the most impressive pure pitching performance on the first day. He sat 91-93 mph, touching 94, using a slinging, low three-quarters delivery that created a fair amount of deception and made him especially tough on left-handed hitters,” Elbert wrote on the perfectgame.org website. “The arm angle also complemented his low 80s slider, showing the ability to change speeds and throw strikes with both pitches.”
In two innings, Medeiros didn’t allow a hit, walked one and struck out two at the Mall of America Field, where major leaguers such as Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, and Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder all showcased their talent at the PGN site.
“My performance went really well and I topped out at 94 mph,” Medeiros said. “I was efficient and got out of there right away with a low pitch count, 20 something pitches.
“I got invited to the All-American Classic at Petco Park. They take the top 48 players in the nation. I’m really happy about that.”
Medeiros’ performance also earned him an invitation to the Area Code Baseball Games, Aug. 5-10 at Long Beach. It’s an eight-team tournament representing eight regions nationwide. Scouts from all 30 major league teams and top college programs are expected to attend.
He was invited to the Perfect Game All-American Classic, held the following week at Petco Park, home stadium of the San Diego Padres. A record 19 Perfect Game All-Americans were taken in the first round of the 2012 MLB draft.
“The Area Code and All-American Classic are really big events,” he said. “I’m really excited. Kean Wong went to the Area Code. They said I’m going to pitch one inning at the All-American Classic at Petco.”
The University of Arizona and BYU offered full-ride scholarships to Medeiros, who also received strong interest from Pepperdine and UCLA and plans to take campus visits before the Area Code Games. Oregon, Kansas, South Alabama, and West Virginia also expressed interest.
As another nice bonus from the PGN showcase at the Metrodome, home to the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, Medeiros was also selected to have a baseball card made for him.
Medeiros said he’s back to full health after a muscle strain in his elbow limited his innings during his junior season. He went 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in 11 2/3 innings in five games. He gave up seven hits, seven walks, hit seven batters and struck out 19.
Doctors told Medeiros he suffered the injury from overuse as a sophomore in 2012, when Waiakea won the school’s first Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I state championship. His pitching coach Gerry Meyer also said Medeiros hurt his arm from a heavy innings log, and wants his student on an 80-pitch count.
“I was 100 percent in February, before the season started. The elbow part was 100 percent,” Medeiros said. “But my muscles were all out of shape. My arm was not the same.
“I went to physical therapy with Guy Nakao and I have to thank him for taking extra time to help me get back to normal like how I was pitching before. He would put in two or three hours after my appointment ended, working on me, adjusting me.”
Medeiros has unconventional pitching mechanics. From his takeaway, when the ball leaves his glove, his left arm goes directly into his pitching slot. Most pitchers are taught a two-thumbs down technique. After the takeaway, the glove and ball hands are facing down, resembling an upside-down W.
The major league pitcher most similar to Medeiros is probably Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner. And as far as Medeiros can remember, he always threw with his unique style and arm slot, and never threw over the top or the more common three-quarter arm angle.
“What they said at the showcase about my mechanics was don’t change anything, and it’s good how it is,” he said. “They like the way I coil up (when he loads on his back leg) and go to the plate.
“My arm slot is above sidearm and not three-quarter. It’s a low three-quarter. I throw a two-seam fastball that tails away from right-handed batters. Depending on how I throw, it has two actions. It can sink or I can make it tail.
“My cutter goes sweeping down and across to right-handers. My catcher up there told me it has good, late movement. I like throwing that pitch because it breaks late.”
Medeiros also throws a four-seam fastball, circle changeup and is working on a curveball. He credited Meyer for sharpening him as a pitcher and hitting coach Kaha Wong for turning him into a slugger.
He made the All-BIIF first team as an outfielder. Medeiros batted .492 with four homers and 36 RBIs, and posted a .529 on-base percentage and slugged at a .825 clip, which meant more than half his hits were for extra bases.
But Medeiros’ future is on the pitching mound. He knows the scouts will track him next year, like they did former Waiakea teammate Kean Wong, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Tampa Bay Rays. And like Wong, he has scholarships as bargaining leverage come draft time.
“My goal is to get stronger with everything, and do well when the scouts come, and pretty much stay healthy all of next year,” Medeiros said. “Hopefully, we can win at Waiakea, too.
“The experience at the showcase was really great and I showed what I could do at that level. Some scouts have heard my name before, but not seen me. It was good to finally go up there in front of all the scouts in the stands and make a name for myself.”