Thursday, January 25, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, January 25, 2001

Spring begins early for Wayne

UH-Hilo, Hawai'i Pacific baseball statistics

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

Men may be from Mars, but Montreal Expos report to Jupiter.

That’s where Justin Wayne, Hawaii’s highest draft pick ever, begins his quest to reach the major leagues today at the Expos spring training site in Jupiter, Fla.

The former Punahou School all-state pitcher and Stanford All-American was the fifth overall selection in the 2000 amateur draft after his junior season of eligibility. After signing a $2.95 million bonus, he played rookie ball for the Jupiter Hammerheads, going 0-3 with a 5.81 earned run average. He pitched 26 innings in five starts.

"Playing with the big leaguers is something every kid dreams about," Wayne said Tuesday, a day before departing for Florida. "The jitters will be there a bit. The pressure will be tremendous."

Wayne, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound right-hander, is fifth in Baseball America magazine’s top 10 prospects in the Expos organization. The publication said that "...he’s definitely on the fast track. He should get to Double-A this season and could be in Montreal by early 2002."

Wayne is just trying to do his job.

"As far as I know, everything’s wide open," he said. "They just want me to give it my all. I don’t know where they’re going to send me."

His fastball ranges between 88-92 mph, but has good movement. His strength is his intelligence. "I’m a thinking pitcher," said the 21-year-old Wayne. "I don’t throw 98 (mph). I have to move (my pitches) in and out."

The biggest adjustment for Wayne is keeping notes on opposing hitters. In college, coaches did that for him. There’s no one to hold his hand now.

"You have to focus and you have to have a plan," Wayne said. "There’s a lot of data collecting. Now, the pressure’s put upon the player. Pro baseball players have a very good sense than college players on what needs to be done."

After his stint at Jupiter, the Expos High-A affiliate, Wayne returned to Stanford in the fall to complete his degree in economics, graduating in 31/2 years. He felt it was important to finish college instead of putting it off.

"It’s a huge asset if things don’t work out," Wayne said of his degree.

He has since been working out with his brother, Hawkeye, an Iolani and Columbia University graduate. Hawkeye is a pitcher in the Seattle Mariners organization.

"It’s great to have that partner" for workouts, Justin said. "It’s too bad we don’t train in the same state." The Mariners train in Arizona.

Wayne will return to the Bay Area Feb. 6 to accept an award at the Hot Stove Banquet for being College Pitcher of the Year for Santa Clara County. He then returns to Florida.


Hornets nest: Hawaii opens a three-game series starting tonight against Sacramento State (23-33 in 2000) at Rainbow Stadium. Game times are 6:35 tonight, 6:35 p.m. tomorrow and 1:05 p.m. Saturday.

It’s also the season opener for the Hornets, who are picked to finish tied for sixth in the seven-team Big West Conference. Last year, the Rainbows swept a three-game series here and won a single game at Sacramento.

The Rainbows are picked to finish fifth in the seven-team Western Athletic Conference by a poll of coaches. Hawaii is ahead of Texas Christian and Hawaii-Hilo. Rice, which had six first-place votes, and Fresno State, which had the other first-place vote, are picked to finish first and second.

Jeff Coleman, Sean Yamashita and Gavin Garrick are the probable starting pitchers for UH with Chris Quiroz, Chad Giannetti, Matt LeDucq, Aaron Pribble and Bryan Lee getting in their share of innings. The pitchers will be limited to an 80-pitch count or a maximum of five innings, UH assistant media relations director Markus Owens said.

The Hornets return second baseman Cory Williams (.356) and center fielder Aurelio Jackson (.306). Missing in the series will be third baseman Carlos Morales (.348), who led the team in hits (71), runs (42) and RBIs (43) last year. He won’t play because of "academic restrictions," according to a Sacramento State press release.

Also, Owens said that for record keeping purposes, this season’s UH record will be credited to acting head coach Carl Furutani. Murakami, who is rehabilitating from a stroke, compiled a 1,079-570-4 record in 30 seasons.

Idle: Hawaii-Hilo and Hawaii Pacific do not play this week.

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