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The Five Tool Five (12/28/22)

If you’re dealing with some cold in the continental United States perhaps reading about baseball in Hawaii will help warm you up. Today’s edition of the Five Tool Five travels to gorgeous Hawaii where Five Tool is covering the third-annual Hawaii Sandlot Classic. 

What is the Five Tool Five? The short, succinct definition: it’s simply a look at five players who recently caught our attention. The long-winded, more detailed explanation: showcasing our coverage from around the United States and highlighting noteworthy baseball talent, skill, performances, news, uncommitted players who colleges should pay attention to and more. We plan to deliver a fresh Five Tool Five every Monday through Friday to help satisfy baseball fans’ hunger for coverage at the amateur level and welcome you to the home of what we believe is the best amateur baseball coverage you’ll find -

Why are we so passionate about shining a light on the great baseball talent in Hawaii? Because often we’ll come across guys like this who are relative unknowns… 

Kameron Lee is a dude to follow in 2024

Hello, Kameron Lee. The 2024 right-hander from Island School (Hawaii) showed up to the Hawaii Sandlot Classic and put himself firmly on the radar with a fastball that touched 91 MPH and seven strikeouts over 3.0 impressive innings. In addition to a hard heater that occasionally sizzled towards home plate with some natural cut, Lee showed a lot of confidence in a tight, short curveball that did buckle at least one hitter and also intriguing feel for a 78-80 MPH changeup. 

And the uncommitted prospect did this from a 5-10, 150-pound frame. He’s unlikely to grow into a hulking 6-2 presence on the mound, but there’s room to fill out and add strength. Regardless, he’s already generating impressive velocity, competed with confidence, and his low-leg kick delivery includes barely any head movement upon release. 

Sean Yamaguchi packs a right-handed punch with the bat

Baseball fans might recognize the name and with good reason because Sean Yamaguchi was a star for Honolulu Little League when it won the Little League World Series in 2018. Affectionately nicknamed “Big Sexy” years ago, Yamaguchi, an uncommitted 2024 infielder from Saint Louis School (Hawaii), showed his power when he stepped up to a tee and drilled a baseball 101 MPH. 

I get it. Somewhere, someone is rolling their eyes at hitting a ball off a tee really hard and probably tweeting from a soapbox. What I see is really impressive bat speed, raw power, and a young hitter with a natural understanding of how to rotate and leverage his strength to impact the baseball with the barrel; pre-game activities like in-and-out and showcase-type measures like exit velocity are a good way to get a general feel for a player’s tools. There aren’t many 2024 prospects who can step up to a tee and do what Yamaguchi can. And, of course, it matters most what happens during live action. 

And guess what? Yamaguchi’s skill and hitting ability come to life during game action. He’s a gamer who also fired a ball 88 MPH across the infield, made a slick play up the middle at shortstop with soft hands, and can really hit, too. 

Jace Souza is the real deal

I wasn’t surprised to see Kamehameha Schools (Kapalama Campus; Hawaii) left-handed hitter Jace Souza already establishing himself as a dude. At last summer’s Pudge Rodriguez World Classic, Souza made a name for himself by showcasing one of the best left-handed swings in the event with good bat-to-ball ability and a natural feel for hitting. 

At the Hawaii Sandlot Classic, Souza, who committed to Texas Tech shortly after the Pudge, ran a 6.70-second 60-yard dash and has consistently created hard contact during game action; the 60 time is among the best at the event and the hitting ability remains one of the best in Hawaii. 

Isaiah Chaves is at home on a baseball field

Speaking of players who caught my eye during the Pudge Rodriguez World Classic, Isaiah Chaves is proving his summer performance was a great example of who he is - a tough competitor with hitting skill and the type of intangibles college coaches want in their programs. He’s not going to wow people with his physical testing, but he’s again proving to be the type of prospect who figures out ways to impact winning. 

From the hardwood to the mound in impressive fashion

It’s basketball season for this 6-7, 195-pound athlete, but that didn’t stop Ka'imi Kahalekai from showing up and opening some wide, approving eyes with his performance on the mound. The Kamehameha Maui (Hawaii) product is an athletic mover on the mound, which isn’t surprising given his hoops background. With a quick, clean arm, Kahalekai fired a fastball up to 87 MPH and also showed some feel for sinking fastballs to his glove side. The uncommitted righty also showed impressive feel for spinning and executing a swing-and-miss breaking ball with what looked like tight spin and notable RPM. 

As Kahalekai adds leg strength and grows into his frame, expect a notable jump on the mound. Very exciting upside. 

Dustin McComas
Senior Editor