HPU Standout Sumner Drafted By New York Yankees

The waiting, as Tom Petty sings, is the hardest part.

Former Hawaii Pacific University and Kailua stand-out Kale Sumner can identify, having recently been riveted to the screen of his computer for hour upon hour as the recent Major League Baseball Draft unfolded. When the New York Yankees selected him (32nd Round, 974th overall pick), relief was among the emotions for Sumner.

“New York was one of the teams that had been in touch with me, and I got a call from them a few minutes before telling me that there was a possibility I’d be drafted by them,” said Sumner. “I was watching on the computer when my name was called. I felt excited and joyful. It was stressful earlier watching everyone else getting picked.”

Sumner was drafted as a third baseman but may play catcher in the minors. The Kailua product excelled at first and third base this season for the Sea Warriors, but saw significant time at catcher during his junior year.

Sumner is currently in Staten Island, N.Y., where he will compete with the Yankees during their summer season. Last week, he was in Tampa, Fla., to take part in a Yankees’ mini-camp for new additions to the organization.

“When I first got here, before entering our first meeting, we were told that you’re not just part of a ball club – you’re part of the Yankees,” Sumner said by phone. “Everyone knows who the Yankees are.”

Sumner and his new teammates were treated to heat and humidity on Day One of mini-camp, which was to run last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

“It was fun, but it was tough – it is humid out here, and it can take its toll on your body,” he said.

Although drafted as a third baseman, Sumner spent much of his time at mini-camp behind the plate.

“I’ve been at catcher, but once the season starts, I’ll be getting some time at third, catcher and first base,” he said.

Sumner had a huge senior season in 2013, earning Third Team All-America honors from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association as well as receiving Honorable Mention on the Daktronics All-American Team. He also was selected as All-Region by three different organizations in addition to being named All-Conference at first and third base.

Sumner hit .386, with 41 runs scored, 21 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 42 walks and 51 runs batted in. He won the PacWest batting title, and also was the league leader in on-base percentage (.509), doubles, hits (66) and walks. He was also in the mix for PacWest supremacy in several other categories. He finished one RBI behind league leading teammate Marvin Campbell, was third in the league in slugging percentage (.614), third in total bases (105), third in sac flies (4), fourth in triples, and sixth in runs.

Summer is the 12th Sea Warrior to be drafted. Only Benny Agbayani made it to the Major Leagues; he was selected in the 30th round.

“I feel like, to this point, a lot of my hard work has paid off,” said Sumner. “It’s still a long road to get to the Major Leagues. I just have to keep working hard and do what I do.”

At Kailua High, Sumner was the Oahu Interscholastic Association Player of the Year in both 2007 and 2008, crediting longtime Surfriders head coach Corey Ishigo with helping him realize his considerable potential.

Sumner had set the tone for a great college career as a freshman in 2010, when he earned Pac West Conference Freshman of the Year honors (as well as earning First Team All-League honors). The Sea Warriors went 39-12 that year en route to appearing in the NCAA Regionals.

Over his four years at HPU, Sumner played five positions, including first base, third base, catcher and left field.

Sumner was a Second Team All-Conference selection as a sophomore and earned First Team honors as a junior.

Email Jack Danilewicz at jackster.1969@yahoo.com.