(Hawaii Athletics) - University of Hawai'ii head baseball coach Mike Trapasso announced the signing of nine players to national letters of intent for the 2019 season on Wednesday. The new additions for next year represent four pure pitchers, two infielders, one catcher, one outfielder and one probable two-way player for the Rainbow Warriors.
"We're excited about this class," Trapasso said. "It's a very athletic class with tremendous potential. We're honored these young men have decided to continue their education and baseball careers as Rainbow Warriors."
Of the nine signees, seven will arrive from high school, with two junior college transfers. A diverse group geographically; two players hail from Hawai'i high schools, with two from Idaho, one apiece from California, South Dakota, Texas and Washington, and one raised in Okinawa but arriving in Manoa from Nevada.
Tyler Best – INF – (Eagle, Idaho) Eagle High School
6-1, 165 lbs.
Notes: Batted .318 across the past two seasons with a .489 OBP and 21 walks, scoring 21 runs with 12 RBI. Received 5A Southern Idaho Conference honorable mention last year. Played in the prestigious Area Code Games.
Trapasso on Best: "Tyler brings tremendous infield actions and a great baseball IQ. He was raised in a baseball family…his uncle is with the Detroit Tigers, and his cousin is a cross-checker with the Royals. He has a very high ceiling."
Cooper Bowman – INF – (Rapid City, S.D.) Stevens High School
6-1, 175 lbs.
Notes: Helped Post 22 Hardhats American Legion Baseball to a 51-9 record this summer, batting a team-high .409 with 15 doubles, five triples, seven home runs and 66 RBI, scoring 72 runs. Named to the 2017 Rocky Mountain Showcase Top Prospect List.
Trapasso on Bowman: "Cooper has the ability to make an immediate impact as a freshman. He has the potential to be an offensive infielder. We're very excited about Cooper."
Taylor Burns – RHP – (Bakersfield, Calif.) Bakersfield College
6-2, 190 lbs.
Notes: 3.24 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 10 appearances (2017), including three starts.
Trapasso on Burns: "Taylor has the skill set to be a weekend starter. High-80s plus velo with command and a plus change up. He's very polished and should log considerable innings right away."
Connor Butler – LHP/OF – (Eagle, Idaho) Bishop Kelly High School
5-11, 150 lbs.
Notes: 1.71 ERA, 2-3 in nine appearances (2017). Batted .333 with 20 runs and 15 RBI, recording three doubles and two triples. Logged a .475 OBP. Received second-team 4A Southern Idaho Conference as both an outfielder and a pitcher last season.
Trapasso on Butler: "Connor is a true two-way player. Left-handed bat with speed and 88-91 lefty off the mound. He's very athletic and hasn't come close to his potential."
Aaron Davenport – RHP – (Duvall, Wash.) Cedarcrest High School
6-1, 175 lbs.
Notes: 0.48 ERA, 3-4 record last year with 83 strikeouts in nine starts; a 1.89 strikeout per inning average. Logged a 1.19 ERA and 9-8 record in three varsity seasons. Received first-team all-Cascade Conference honors each of the past two years.
Trapasso on Davenport: "Aaron can make an immediate impact as a freshman. Plus arm with a power curveball. We look for innings right away from Aaron."
Dallas Duarte – C – (Hilo, Hawai') Kamehameha Schools-Hawai'i
5-8, 175 lbs.
Notes: Batted .304 with eight runs and eight RBI last year, aiding the Warriors to another BIIG D2 title and third-place in the state tournament. On the 2016 HHSAA All-State Tournament Team and received D2 All-State honorable mention last year. First team All-BIIF in 2017.
Trapasso on Duarte: "Dallas reminds us of Kekai Rios coming out of high school. He's an outstanding receiver, with a plus arm. We also feel he can make an impact right away with his bat."
Joey O'Brien – RHP – (Okinawa, Japan) College of Southern Nevada
6-2, 195 lbs.
Notes: 2.84 ERA and 1-1 record in 10 relief appearances, striking out 22 with an 0.73 average against. Also batted .372 with 14 RBI and 10 runs.
Trapasso on O'Brien: "Joey has the chance to be special. He touches 95 with his fastball and has only been pitching for a short time. He was born and raised in Okinawa, so Hawai'i is a great fit for him."
Blaze (Koali'i) Pontes – RHP – (Mililani, O'ahu) Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama
5-11, 170 lbs.
Notes: 0.95 ERA, 6-1 with one save in eight appearances last year, striking out 29. Played club ball for nationally No. 8 ranked Team California Baseball. Helped the Warriors to a fourth-place finish in the state tournament. Named first team All-ILH Division I last year and received second team honors as a sophomore.
Trapasso on Pontes: "We're excited about Li'i. He has a very high ceiling…hasn't come close to touching his potential. He has a very clean arm action and already shows pitchability."
Scotty Scott – OF/INF – (Cyress, Texas) Cypress Ranch High School
5-10, 160 lbs.
Notes: Batted .300 with a .458 OBP last season, recording 31 runs and 20 RBI, while hitting six doubles and three triples. 2017 PG Underclass Honorable Mention.
Trapasso on Scott: "We're very excited about Scotty. A left-handed bat that brings elite speed to our team. He ran a 6.45 in the 60-yard dash last week at his high school showcase."
The Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors have completed fall training and will return to work in January. UH will hold its annual Alumni Game on Feb. 10 and open its 2018 season on Feb. 16 with a four-game series against Air Force.