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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 6, 2001

Five from Isles get baseball draft call

 •  Yankees bet highly on Kamehameha star
 •  Chart: Hawai'i players drafted

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

The graduation party is on hold for Bronson "Bully" Sardinha.

"My whole body's shaking," Bronson Sardinha said.

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The recent Kamehameha Schools graduate instead celebrated being the 34th overall pick in yesterday's Major League Baseball first-year player draft.

Sardinha, 18, a two-time Advertiser All-State selection, was the fourth pick of the supplemental first round, making him the highest Hawai'i high school drafted player. In 1999, Waipahu High pitcher Jerome Williams was the 39th overall selection of the San Francisco Giants.

"I was planning his graduating party," mother Darneen Sardinha said. "Now that's on hold."

Instead, the family gathered for dinner last night to celebrate.

"I'm going to wear my Yankees cap," proud grandfather Les Akeo Sr., a life-long Yankees fan, said before last night's gathering.

Sardinha led a contingent of five players with ties to Hawai'i who were drafted yesterday.

St. Louis School pitcher Brandon League was taken in the second round by the Toronto Blue Jays, the 59th overall pick.

Brandon League, a Yankee fan, was selected by the Blue Jays.

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Next was former Mid-Pacific Institute ('99) all-state shortstop Rex Rundgren, who played at Sacramento City junior college this past season. He was an 11th-round pick (332nd overall) of the Florida Marlins.

Former Wai'anae High ('98) shortstop Kaulana Kuhaulua of Long Beach State was the first player taken in the 12th round (347th overall) by the Minnesota Twins.

Then came Nebraska All-America pitcher Shane Komine (Kalani '98), who was selected in the 19th round (584th overall) by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Sardinha wasn't even aware when Yankees area scout Gus Quattlebaum called.

"I was sleeping, then my parents came to my room," he said. "I thought they were playing around with me. I'm stoked. My whole body's shaking."

League was projected to be picked ahead of Sardinha. Nonetheless, he was still surprised at the selection. He was so excited that he said someone from the Blue Jays called him, but "I can't remember his name."

Ironically, League said the Yankees are his favorite team. So he was pleased that another local player was picked by them.

Rex Rundgren may go pro this time around.

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"At least one of us will play for them," League said. "I'm glad it's him and no one else."

Sardinha said that Quattlebaum called him the night before.

"He asked me if we offered seven figures or more (as a bonus), would you sign," Sardinha said. "I said, yes. Then he said we have a good shot at taking you."

Sardinha gave prospective teams fair warning.

"I had told all the teams that it would take seven figures to sign me," he said.

A Yankees representative will visit Sardinha tomorrow, he said.

Both players indicated that there is a good chance they will forgo their college scholarships to Pepperdine and turn pro.

Sardinha is second in his family to get drafted. Last year, the Cincinnati Reds drafted brother Dane in the second round. In lieu of a bonus, he signed a major league contract worth $1.9 million. Dane also was drafted in the second round by Kansas City in 1997 out of Kamehameha, but didn't sign and went on to play at Pepperdine.

"I'm 95 percent sure I'll sign," Kaulana Kuhaulua said.

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Rundgren and Kuhaulua both said they are leaning toward turning pro.

Rundgren's father is rock musician Todd Rundgren, while Kuhaulua's father, Fred Kuhaulua, is a former major league pitcher.

Rundgren was drafted in the 24th round by Boston out of Mid-Pacific Institute in 1999.

"I felt I wasn't ready to play," he said. "I thought I needed more experience at a higher level."

Rundgren said he already has a scholarship offer from Clemson, and that USC was showing interest.

Kuhaulua was drafted out of Los Angeles City junior college in 1999 by the Detroit Tigers (39th round) and last year by St. Louis (17th round). He opted to transfer to a four-year school, and that raised his stock.

"I'm pumped," Kuhaulua said from his Long Beach, Calif., apartment. "I'm pretty happy where I was chosen. I'm 95 percent sure I'll sign."

Komine, who was projected by Baseball America to be taken around the fifth round, wasn't surprised teams passed on him until the 19th round.

Shane Komine said he wasn't surprised by the lower pick.

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"I turned some teams down early, telling them I would go back to school if I didn't get drafted at a certain round," Komine said from Omaha, Neb., where the Cornhuskers are preparing for their College World Series opener Friday against top-seeded Cal State-Fullerton. "But the Cardinals were willing to give me a chance. They said they could (pay) a lot higher (than the round)."

Komine, a 5-9, 175-pound hard-throwing right-hander, said his history of back problems might have worked against him, too.

"I think that's what they were afraid of, how I would hold up," Komine said. "I understand their feelings but I've proved that I'm healthy."

Last year, Stanford pitcher Justin Wayne, a 1997 Punahou School graduate, was the highest drafted player with ties to Hawai'i to be taken. He was the fifth overall selection by the Montreal Expos. Wayne is now playing at Class A Jupiter (Fla.).

Twenty rounds were completed yesterday. The draft continues at 6 a.m. today.

Undrafted so far are University of Hawai'i pitcher Jeff Coleman and Arizona State outfielder Jonah Martin (Kamehameha '96), as well as other high school prospects.

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