MINNEAPOLIS -- Some pretty remarkable things can happen to a young man simply by accepting that select invitation to perform at the Perfect Game National Showcase.
Remarkable especially when that acceptance requires a commitment quite different from the one made by the other 300-plus top prospects in attendance. Remarkable especially when that acceptance requires a 4,000-mile trip by airplane. Remarkable especially when there are no expectations whatsoever as to what the results the acceptance of that prized invitation will be.
Yet the only adequate way to describe the day Hawaiian left-handed pitcher Kodi Medeiros spent at the Perfect Game National Showcase at the downtown Metrodome is simply remarkable.
"It's been life-changing, really," Medeiros said Friday, just three weeks after celebrating his 17th birthday. "I didn't really expect the kind of things that are happening to me right now. Just from me pitching and everything, just from that it's really kind of changing my life."
Medeiros' life-changing moment came on Wednesday when he put on his No. 19 PG Purple jersey and walked out to the mound at Mall of America Field as the first pitcher to throw at the 2013 PG National. This was definitely one of those instances of a showcase putting its best foot forward right from the get go. Or, as Perfect Game managing editor Patrick Ebert wrote in his PG National Day 1 recap:
"Hawaiian lefty Kodi Medeiros kicked off the event with arguably the most impressive pure pitching performance on the day. He sat 91-93, touching 94, using a slinging, low three-quarters delivery that created a fair amount of deception and made him especially tough on left-handed hitters. The arm angle also complemented his low-80s slider, showing the ability to change speeds and throw strikes with both pitches."
With a couple hundred professional scouts and college coaches watching his performance, Medeiros -- a 6-foot, 180-pound senior-to-be at Waiakea High School in Hilo, Hawaii -- suddenly found himself in the national spotlight. He has not committed to a college yet so now both college recruiters and the Major League Baseball scouting community are worthy players at the table.
"This has been unbelievable," Robert Medeiros, Kodi's father, said Friday. "It brings tears to your eyes to see your son's dreams come true; it's just 'Wow!' His level of pitching -- and I thought I'd seen it all -- just keeps increasing. It gets a little better, a little better, a little better and I'm just, like, blown away."
It wasn't exactly like Medeiros had been pitching on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for the past seven years -- Hilo is on Hawaii's Big Island and there is a 21st century mass media presence, after all -- so baseball people in his home state were are aware of his ability. He has attended several local showcase events, including one in Maui in October where he performed in front of dozens of mainland scouts and was impressive enough to receive an invitation to this year's Area Code Games.
But it was important for Medeiros to make the effort to bring himself to the scouts on the mainland instead of the scouts coming to him on the Hawaiian Islands. He just needed to make sure he wound up in the right spot.
"Through the advice of David Matranga is how we got here," Robert Medeiros said. "With his knowledge of where we should go, we learned this was one of the biggest events that we should attend, and look what happened. It's just awesome."
Matranga works as the Medeiros' advisor; he is also the advisor for Hawaiian brothers Kolten and Kean Wong. Kolten Wong was an MLB first round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals out of the University of Hawaii in 2011 and Kean was scooped up in the fourth round of last week's 2013 MLB amateur draft by the Texas Rangers.
"These guys are all best friends and I've been hearing about Kodi for a lot of years," Matranga said Friday while in the company of Kodi and Robert. "I finally got a chance to see him throw in a tournament (in Hawaii) in February, and there were about 15 scouts there and a star was kind of born that day. And then he comes here, and now the star is really born.
"I got involved with them and they asked 'What should we do, where should we go?' and I said Minnesota. They said, 'Minnesota, where's Minnesota?' but I told (Kodi) this is where you need to go to get on the national map."
"That's exactly what he said and it's been life-changing," Robert Medeiros said.
Medeiros started playing baseball as a 10-year-old after previously being involved with judo while in early elementary school. He's a long way now from those judo classes of this youth, and although he's new at this showcase thing, he did say he came in with solid expectations.
"I kind of knew what to expect. I knew the competition was going to be very good with all the top (prospects) in the nation," Medeiros said. "When I first came in and got my jersey that's when I had some butterflies, but when I met all my teammates and everything and everyone would shake hands and stuff like that, that's when the butterflies kind of went away.
"Maybe when I was warming up I was a little bit nervous in the bullpen but then when I found the strike zone I knew that I should be fine."
When at home in Hilo, Medeiros works with veteran pitching coach Jerry Meyer, a former minor league player in the St. Louis Cardinals organization in the 1950s. Meyer, who is 79 years old, works with young pitchers on Hawaii's Big Island free of charge and, according to Medeiros, will adjust his own schedule to accommodate the pitching prospect's schedule.
"He's like a grandfather to (Kodi)," Robert Medeiros offered.
There has been a measurable progression in Medeiros' skill level and physical development in the time has worked with Meyers.
"My velocity has increased every year based on the mechanics and the workouts I do with him," Medeiros said. "The pitches that he's teaching me, we go step-by-step until I finally work one pitch really well, and then I learn a new one and I try to work with him twice a week."
Medeiros has reached the point in his development where he's comfortable throwing two- and four-seam fastballs, a changeup and a cut fastball, and he's working on a curveball.
The brief PG scouting report filed after his outing Wednesday noted that "nothing he threw in his two innings was straight" but the performance went straight into the members of the scouting communities' memory banks. All in all, it was simply remarkable; a life-changer.