Kapaʻa senior star’s future prospects delayed

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island file

    Baseball scouts from four different professional organizations (the fourth is in the back with his big iPad) hone in on a player with their smart phones during the second day of the Walter Souza Invitational Baseball Tournament at Ron Martin Field on the Kapa‘a High campus earlier this month.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island file

    Waimea base runner Deiton Otoman is tagged out by Kapa‘a’s Noa Cardinez on Otoman’s stolen-base attempt in the first inning of a Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation baseball championship playoff at Hanapepe Stadium last season.

KAPA‘A — Kapa‘a High School standout Noa Cardinez is awaiting the possibility of achieving a life-long dream of being drafted in the Major League Baseball amateur draft held in June.

During the Warriors’ preseason baseball games, Cardinez, a versatile athlete who plays shortstop, pitcher, catcher and third baseman, aspired to play catcher or third baseman at either the professional or NCAA Division I level.

Still, his childhood dream may have to be put on hold.

Currently, there is speculation the MLB amateur draft, traditionally held in June, won’t happen because of the continued worldwide spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“I was looking forward to the draft, and now I see that it (might be) canceled because scouts won’t be able to see me play,” Cardinez said.

Cardinez had another option when he signed with the University of Hawai‘i baseball program in December, in the event the draft doesn’t happen.

Then Cardinez, and the rest of his teammates, had another setback when the Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association suspended interscholastic competition for all sports “indefinitely.”

For Cardinez, it wasn’t just his athletic career that was put on hold. It was also his senior year at Kapa‘a that was halted.

“(Seeing the season possibly get canceled), it was a little heart-breaking that my senior season could come to an early end,” Cardinez said. “I guess all we can do is keep working out, and that is what I’ve been doing to keep myself occupied.”

Currently, Cardinez works out at the Warriors’ field, doing long-toss drills and stretching, and then is in the batting cage for another hour and 15 minutes.

“I am taking a lot of this time to focus on baseball,” Cardinez said. “I am doing a bunch of workouts.”

There is a consensus among Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation coaches that Cardinez could be one of the most successful players in recent KIF history.

The attention he has received puts him in the conversation with the likes of other successful KIF players, including Kirby Yates of the San Diego Padres, former Major Leaguer Tyler Yates, and former Warriors’ player Micah Furtado, who played in the Texas Rangers’ organization.

Current Warriors’ baseball coach Bryan Aiwohi recalls Furtado’s prowess.

“(Furtado) was an outstanding baseball player,” Aiwohi said. “He has the skill because he could hit and play the field. I enjoy talking to him even though I am older, and I learn a lot from him about baseball.”

Aiwohi knows it’s frustrating for Cardinez and his other players.

“He likes to work, and I am sure he is working out on his own,” Aiwohi said. “He has a future in baseball. He has a good work ethic and his mind set on being a professional baseball player.”

Aiwohi, and the rest of Cardinez’s teammates, admit they are anxious to get back to the ballpark and compete.

“Our seniors have taken the news pretty hard, and they are pretty down, but I don’t blame them,” Aiwohi said. “I think it will be a pretty competitive year. It’s a bummer for them because they could cancel their prom and graduation is still up in the air. That is not how you want to end your senior year.”

All of the Warriors are on their own to train until further notice.

“That is the one characteristic that all of these kids have had is that they are self-driven,” Aiwohi said. “You have to be that way if you want to move up, and we want to just help out in every way we can.”

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Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com.

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