HONOLULU — There was a lot of attention on Waiakea senior left-hander Kodi Medeiros at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I baseball tournament because it was his last start of the season, and it was against a worthy adversary.
Medeiros lost a 2-0 quarterfinal battle to Saint Louis in a pitching duel against fellow top prospect Jordan Yamamoto, who also went the distance on Wednesday at Les Murakami Stadium, turning the matchup into a tools vs. production study case.
Yamamoto performed better. He fired a two-hitter, walked two and struck out nine. He’s listed at 6 feet, 1 inch and topped out at 92 mph. One draft observer predicated he may get picked in rounds 4-5 of the Major League Baseball draft.
Medeiros threw a five-hitter, walked three, hit two batters, and whiffed eight. The 6-1 southpaw’s fastball was clocked at 96 mph, a few scouts confirmed, and his sweeping slider also graded out as major league-quality.
Compared to Yamamoto, one scout pointed out Medeiros’ ceiling is much higher and his pure stuff translates to pro ball, and will put him in the running for the first round of the MLB draft, which runs June 5-7. As signing leverage, he has a full-ride scholarship to Pepperdine.
Medeiros put himself on the map when he dazzled at the Perfect Game National Showcase last June in Minnesota. Perfect Game is the largest scouting service, and it sent scouting supervisor Todd Gold to analyze Medeiros and Yamamoto at the state tournament.
“For one rare night, Medeiros wasn’t the best pitcher on the field. But in terms of prospect status, and with all due respect to Yamamoto, it’s Medeiros by a landslide,” Gold wrote on the perfectgame.org website. “The first thing that jumps out about Medeiros’ development is the addition of a mid-upper 80s cutter to his arsenal, which is relatively short and tight in comparison to his slider, and was his primary weapon for neutralizing right-handers. His slider has added a couple of ticks of velocity since we last saw him in October, sitting in the 79-82 mph range after typically showing a range of 77-80 in the past.
“Local scouts have reported that he’s touched 96 a few times this spring. He primarily worked in the 90-92 range through the first four innings. He slowly dipped as the game wore on, but would still hit 90-91 at times throughout the late innings.”
Gold was technical in his scouting report, noting Medeiros throws his fastball from a low three-quarter arm slot, and secondary pitches from nearly sidearm. He also graded Medeiros’ entire body of work from last summer to his final state outing.
“A 95-96 mph fastball with plus to plus-plus life and feel to it, a present plus slider with severe break, and the ability to throw it for strikes,” Gold reported. “A quality mid 80s changeup that has been a weapon at times, and a mid-to-upper 80s cutter.
“While the inherent risks in selecting a high school pitcher with a first round pick are exacerbated by Medeiros’ unorthodox profile, the potential payoff makes passing on him a significant risk in its own right. There is a realistic chance that Medeiros transforms from unorthodox prospect to rare talent.”
The unorthodox profile Gold was referring to is Medeiros’ arm slot, similar to San Francisco Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner. MLB scouts like to compare prospects with players in the big leagues, giving decision-makers a better feel in the draft.
Another scout, earlier in the season, told the Tribune-Herald Medeiros has benefited because Bumgarner hasn’t had any major arm issues.
After an elbow strain that limited his junior season, Medeiros has been 100 percent healthy in his senior campaign.
In mlb.com’s latest mock draft, writer Jonathan Mayo has Medeiros going to the Cleveland Indians as the 21st overall pick in the first round. He, too, was impressed with Medeiros’ last start.
“Medeiros is a bit polarizing in that he’s not as big as some would like — though he’s bigger than listed — and he has a slightly unorthodox delivery,” Mayo wrote. “But it’s hard to argue with his stuff. He was up to 95 mph with a killer slider in his last start of the season.”
One big loss
Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Waiakea loses only two senior starters, Medeiros and catcher Tyler Aburamen.
“We’ve got 16 returnees and everybody should be familiar with the program,” coach Jensen Sato said. “Kodi will be a big loss. He’s a huge support to the team. He’s a huge loss with his leadership and competitiveness. When you’re that competitive, it forces everybody else to get to that level.
“We return Caleb Freitas-Fields. He’s the only pitcher with a lot of mound time. He did pretty good in his sophomore season. He’ll be one of the top players in the league next year. The No. 2 (starter) will be a tossup. You never know the guys we’ll get from the junior varsity. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Though the Warriors (13-3) lost to Saint Louis and Kaiser 8-4 in a consolation game, Sato counts the state experience as a valuable learning lesson.
“It helped us grow as a team. Everybody felt that loss to Saint Louis and it hit us hard,” he said. “But we’ll work hard to get back to that point. It definitely gives our kids motivation for next year.”
The BIIF runner-up Vikings (11-5-1) beat Roosevelt 9-5 for the consolation title then bid farewell to four key senior starters: ace pitcher/first baseman Jalen Carvalho, outfielders Jodd Carter and Isaiah Banasan, and shortstop Micah Kaaukai, the leading hitters on offense and the most consistent defenders.
Those four all landed collegiate scholarships — Carvalho at Oregon Tech, where he’ll play basketball and baseball; Banasan and Kaaukai at Luna College in New Mexico; Carter has dual commitments to the University of Hawaii and Central Arizona.
Conrad Kauffman was the other senior starter and was a versatile player.
“The seniors are a huge loss. You can’t measure that,” coach Tony De Sa said. “All the seniors were freshmen when I came aboard. I love them to death. They’re great kids, awesome competitors and prepared themselves well. It’s going to be tough not having them.”
There’s a good building block in freshman Joey Jarneski, who pitched and started swinging a consistent bat in the latter half of the season.
“He just learned and was a sponge,” De Sa said. “He came a long way. He doesn’t get pressured out. He just stays relaxed.
“Waiakea will be tough next year. It’s always fun playing Waiakea. It’s competitive games and good for the fans. Everyone at Hilo enjoys it.”