Weighing options

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island file

    Kapa‘a High’s Noa Cardinez slides home under the tag of Waimea catcher Kanaan Ephan in the first inning of a Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation baseball game in Hanapepe Stadium.

KAPA‘A — Former Kapa‘a High School baseball standout Noa Cardinez said he wasn’t deterred when Major League Baseball announced it plans to reduce their rounds from 40 to five in the upcoming amatuer draft.

Cardinez committed to playing baseball at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa in December, attracted attention from MLB scouts, and had scouts attend early-season exhibition games prior to the Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association announcing the cancellation of spring sports in an April 17 press release.

The cancellation of the season affected his draft prospects. He had private workouts scheduled with MLB scouts before all athletic events were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cardinez said.

Still awaiting the results of the MLB draft, he was told by MLB insiders that he is being projected by some to be in one of the top-five rounds in the draft scheduled for June 3.

“I guess it just depends if I get drafted, so we will have to see how everything works out,” Cardinez said. “Hopefully I will go in the top five rounds and everything will work out. And if I do get drafted, I will have to talk it over with my parents and see what will work best for me and my future.”

MLB’s plans to reduce the size of the draft was a cost-cutting move, according to a recent article by the Associated Press.

Just 160 players will be drafted, by far the fewest since the annual selection started in 1965. The combined monetary value of their signing-bonus pools is $235,906,800, the AP article states.

The amount of money eliminated from the signing-bonus pool is $29,578,100.

A significant portion of that money is tied up in players’ signing bonuses they receive as part of transitioning from the amateur ranks to professional baseball.

Cardinez’s baseball career will continue whether he is drafted or not.

If not drafted, he will be playing with the UH-Manoa baseball team, an NCAA Division I program and a member of the Big West Conference, after he signed for a scholarship with the Rainbows in late 2019. He has been told by staff that he is projected to play catcher or third base.

“I am super excited about the draft, and it’s always been a dream of mine since I was like 6 years old,” Cardinez said. “For the possibility of your number to be called, it’s pretty exciting.”

COVID-19 hasn’t slowed down Cardinez’s practice schedule. Practicing four times a week for an estimated one to two hours each day, he’s kept in shape.

Cardinez’s regiment includes long-toss and quick-toss drills, fielding ground balls and hitting balls in a batting cage.

Remaining optimistic, Cardinez is excited about both of his options.

“I just keep my head up and I am hoping for the best,” Cardinez said. “The possibility of getting drafted is exciting, but if it doesn’t work out, I get to stay at home, play in front of my family and represent the state of Hawai‘i.”

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

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