HPU Baseball: MLB Draft Hopefuls’ Bats Set To Blast

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Hawaiʻi Pacific University baseball starts a 12-game homestand at Hans L’Orange Park Feb. 16. The Sharks are in action each of the next three weekends. Come out now, they’re on a hot streak.

Last year, in their first 10 games, HPU scored 44 runs.

This year, in their first 10 games, the Sharks have scored 91 runs.

Local Players Leading The Charge

  • ʻEwa Beach’s own Jordan Mopas has started all ten games and leads the team with seven extra base hits, including two home runs.
  • Matthew Tsutomi, a former Pearl City High star, has 7 hits in 18 at bats.
  • And Christian Kapeliela of Kāneʻohe, a preseason all-conference pick, is living up to his hype. Kapeliela has reached base in all ten games and homered twice. His OPS sits at a Trout-ian 1.037.

New Head Coach Dallas Correa Helped Build The Roster

This is all happening under the leadership of a new head coach, Kauaʻi native and Saint Louis grad Dallas Correa. Correa was the Sharks’ recruiting coordinator before taking the top job, so he’s taking over a team he helped build.

“We’re more physical this year,” Correa told me. He said that, when it came to recruiting mainland players, he focused on bringing in older players. “Junior-college-level leadership and maturity is a good fit for the program.”

That’s because the other main focus of HPU baseball is giving local stars a chance to play in front of family, friends, and fans. The presence of older mainlanders doesn’t keep the local kids from playing right away.

Freshman infielder Dylan Kurahashi-Choy Foo, a North Shore kid, has started all 10 games. Another freshman, Kyle Layugan, a Wahiawā native who played at Mid-Pac, has seen time as a catcher, pitcher, and third baseman.

The Dream: Getting Drafted Into MLB

Whether they’re from Kailua or Kenosha, all HPU Sharks have a goal in common, according to Correa. “Everybody is looking for a chance to play pro ball.”

MLB teams have drafted three Hawaiʻi Pacific players in recent years — one each in 2016 (Rico Garcia, Rockies, 30th rd.), 2017 (Brandon Bonilla, Orioles, 13th rd.), and 2018 (Matt Gunter, Blue Jays, 33rd round). All played pro ball in 2018, and are hoping to replicate the success of HPU’s Benny Agbayani, a 30th round pick out of HPU in 1993, who played five seasons in the majors, and hit one of the most memorable home runs in New York Mets history.

“You have a chance (to get drafted) at any level,” Correa told me. “People come here because they’ll get a chance to get 100 at bats, or pitch 60 innings. They have a better chance of getting seen. Everybody is competing.”

Upcoming Schedule

All games are at Hans L’Orange Park in Waipahu. Admission is **free**, food/beverages BYO.

Sat., Feb. 16: Doubleheader vs. Hawai’i Hilo, 1st game 2pm.
Sun., Feb. 17: Doubleheader vs. Hawai’i Hilo, 1st game 11am.

Sat., Feb. 23: Doubleheader vs. Biola, 1st game 2pm.
Mon., Feb. 25: Doubleheader vs. Biola, 1st game 4pm.

Sat., Mar. 2: Doubleheader vs. Fresno Pacific, 1st game 2pm.
Mon., Mar. 4: Doubleheader vs. Fresno Pacific, 1st game 4pm.