Jodd Carter, a recent Hilo graduate, was picked in the 24th round by the Cleveland Indians in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft on Saturday, making it a family affair again for one of the late Keala Wong’s many sons.
She considered and treated all her husband Kaha Wong’s ballplayers, who attend his hitting school, like sons. She always opened the door at her house where Carter’s draft party was held, just like last year when Kean Wong was picked in the fourth round by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Along with recent Kamehameha graduate and catcher Makoa Rosario, Kaha Wong also hosted longtime coaches Shannon Ochi and Walter Silva, as well as Carter’s dad, Todd.
Rosario, who has a scholarship to Central Arizona, wasn’t drafted.
“It was good to celebrate with my coaches and keep the tradition alive that started with Kean last year, going to his house and representing coach Kaha’s organization (Big Island Baseball),” Carter said. “Coach Shannon and coach Walter have been pretty much my coaches all my life, too.”
Carter, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound outfielder, was the 728th pick by the Indians, who took Punahou catcher Kainoa Harrison one spot later. The Buffanblu senior, the son of former University of Hawaii outfielder Kenny Harrison, was projected as the top prep position player out of Hawaii.
“I’m pretty stoked. I never thought this day would come for me,” Carter said. “Since I was a little kid, I’ve always wanted to play in the bigs. No one called me before I got drafted. Dan Cox, a scout from the Angels, texted me right before I got picked and said, ‘Congratulations.’ He’s from Hawaii and we’re all close to him. He comes to showcases and knows coach Kaha.
“I’m leaning toward going pro and chasing my dream. I’m going to go all out and give it my all. Don Lyle, a scout from the Indians, called me and said I’d have to go to Arizona in about 10 days.”
Carter signed a scholarship with the University of Hawaii. The top 10 rounds of the MLB draft have an assigned draft value. The 24th round signing bonus is in the $75,000 to $100,000 range, according to a MLB scout.
Carter and Harrison attended four MLB tryouts together, and Carter pointed out that Harrison drew the most attention.
But Carter flashed one above-average MLB skill that Harrison doesn’t have: speed. Carter runs the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds, for a grade of 7 on the scouting scale of 2 to 8.
“I work on it all the time. I think my speed is because I have long legs,” Carter said. “Since I was a little kid, I always had speed, and I kept improving it and working on it.
“Pretty much every time Kolten and Kean come back I’ll work out with them, and talk with them. We’ll do a lot of fielding and hitting and running. They give me good advice and motivation. Coach Kaha and my dad taught me everything about the game. Coach Kaha taught me a lot about the mental game, putting me in situations to be ready for anything.”
On Thursday, recent Waiakea graduate and left-handed pitcher Kodi Medeiros was drafted 12th overall in the first round by the Milwaukee Brewers, becoming the highest Hawaii prep selection out of high school.
Saint Louis right-hander Jordan Yamamoto, who out-dueled Medeiros in a 2-0 quarterfinal win at the Division I state tournament, was drafted in the 12th round, the 356th pick overall, by the Brewers.
Yamamoto was projected to go in rounds 3-5. What likely hurt his draft status, in addition to a full-ride scholarship to the University of Arizona, was his size; he was listed at 6 feet, but looks closer to 5-11.