U-Hawaii sends two more to HarbourCats, Mariners and Jays draft picks sign

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VICTORIA B.C. – A fan favourite from 2017, a drafted Canadian pitcher now at the University of Hawaii, and a Seattle Mariners draft choice highlight the latest three players added to the 2018 roster of Head Coach Brian McRae’s Victoria HarbourCats.

Kekai (KAY-kye) Rios, a versatile right-handed hitting catcher/infielder, will be back in Victoria in late May to get ready for the 2018 West Coast League season. Rios – his full first name is Kamaliiokekia – hails from the island of Oahu and is a product of the prestigious Kamehameha School system. He hit .308 in 12 games last year before having to return to school for additional academic credits.

Hawaii teammate Carter Loewen is a large signing – literally, at 6-4 and 240 pounds. The 2016 draft choice of the Toronto Blue Jays is coming off a season claimed by an injury, and looking to get innings to regain his form this coming summer. Loewen can also hit, crushing four home runs in his last year for the Abbotsford Cardinals in the PBL. Of the 17 players signed to date, seven of them are Canadian.

Infielder Jack Smith is now at Washington State after turning down draft money from his hometown MLB team, the Seattle Mariners, who selected him in the 29th round this past June. Smith hit .359 with one home run and eight extra-base hits as a high school senior.

“These are big signings from us, returning Kekai and adding two drafted players,” said Brad Norris-Jones, General Manager of the HarbourCats. “There is experience, there is size, and a ton of skill in these three, adding to the depth you need to have in order to compete at this level. Our league is good, and these players know they’ll be challenged, and that our goals are to bring our fans a winner.”

C/3B KEKAI RIOS, 5-11/195, Junior, University of Hawaii – From Kahalu’u, HI, started 48 games as a freshman and is used as a C, 3B and DH to keep him fresh and his bat in the lineup. An exceptional defensive catcher who has been on the NCAA Johnny Bench Award list. Majoring in Human Development and Family Studies.

RHP/DH CARTER LOEWEN, 6-4/240, Redshirt Freshman, University of Hawaii – From Abbotsford, B.C., sat out freshman season due to injury. Majoring in business at UH. Product of Head Coach Corey Eckstein’s fine Abbotsford Cardinals PBL program, winning the 2016 provincial title. Drafted in 40th round by Blue Jays in 2016, member of Canadian National Junior Team in 2016, used as a starting pitcher against the Braves, Nationals and Blue Jays. From Yale Secondary School, honour roll student. Threw a no-hitter in PBL in 2015.

IF JACK SMITH, 6-3/185, Freshman, Washington State – From Mercer Island, WA, and Mercer Island HS, where he was the team’s star shortstop, can play any infield position but the arm plays for being on the left side. The right-handed hitter was selected in the 39th round by the Seattle Mariners in 2017 but chose the college route. Father David Smith grew up in Victoria, adding a great family mix.

Roster to date – 17 players – C Tanner Rempel; C/3B Kekai Rios; IF/OF Jaxxon Fagg; IF/P Jedd Fagg; IF Jack Smith; IF/OF Jason Willow; OF Hunter Vansau; OF Ethan Lopez; OF/P Trevin Reynolds; RHP/DH Carter Loewen; LHPs Ethan Fox, Claire Eccles; RHPs Wyatt Boone, Garrett Goodall, Garrett Ritter, Luke Manuel, Lawson Humphries.

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