Karaviotis named Cal League All-Star
Maui High grad has helped lead D-backs’ Class A-Advanced club to playoff berth
To say the least, things are going well for Maui’s Mark Karaviotis recently.
The 2013 Maui High School graduate was announced as an All-Star for the California League on Friday, just three days after his Visalia Rawhide team became the first in minor league baseball to clinch a playoff berth in 2019.
“It’s a blessing for sure, this is my first honor being an All-Star as a professional and I can’t wait — seven of my other teammates made it,” Karaviotis said via phone on his way to Rawhide Ballpark on Friday. “We just clinched the first-half title and playoff berth a few days ago, so we were popping champagne in the locker room just a few short days ago. Now, getting to share this honor with my teammates, it’s awesome.”
Karaviotis is hitting .297, good for fourth in the California League — the Rawhide are the Class A-Advanced affiliate for the Arizona Diamondbacks — and his .395 on-base percentage is third in the league. He also has four doubles, three homers and 30 RBIs in 175 at-bats over 48 games.
“Mark has been one of the leaders of the team from Day 1. He comes to the yard with a great deal of professionalism and passion every day,” Rawhide manager Shawn Roof said “He’s hit at the top of the order, second or third for us and just puts together very professional AB’s. He’s come up with clutch hit after clutch hit.”
The Rawhide entered Friday night’s game with a 38-15 record.
“We wouldn’t be where we are at without him,” said Roof, who will manage the North Division team in the Cal League All-Star Game that is set for June 18. “It’s been so much fun to see him grow over the year and watch him work on a day-to-day basis. It’s great to see him get honored as a California League All-Star. I look forward to seeing him have a big year the rest of the way out.”
With his impressive numbers, Karaviotis may be on the move soon. The next step on the Diamondbacks’ ladder is the Jackson (Tenn.) Generals of the Double-A Southern League.
“You’ve just got to control what you can control,” Karaviotis said. “I try not to get caught up in the whole batting-average thing. You’re playing every single night, so you just have to go out there and have as many quality at-bats as you can and put your team in the best chance to win.
“At the end of the day, I’ve got studs hitting in front of me and behind me, so I get pitches to hit. It’s not all an individual statistic”
The nature of minor league baseball is often teammates competing against each other to climb the organization ladder, but Karaviotis is thoroughly enjoying his third season in Visalia.
“Winning is definitely fun,” said the 23-year-old who was drafted by the Diamondbacks for the second time out of Oregon in 2016, in the 19th round. “I was actually just talking to a couple of the guys a few days ago and it feels like a college team here.
“You’re battling to find a position, trying to provide food for your family’s table, but you can go out there and compete every day and enjoy who you’re doing it with — that makes winning that much more fun. Makes the grind a lot more bearable, for sure.”
Karaviotis said he has been keeping tabs on 2018 Baldwin graduate Bubba Hoopii-Tuionetoa, who was drafted for the second year in a row on Wednesday, going in the 30th round to the Texas Rangers.
“Hopefully he can continue to make Maui proud and join all the rest of us, all us island boys who are chasing the dream,” Karaviotis said. “I wish him the best. …. I look forward to hopefully meeting up with him this offseason and working together.”
Two head coaches in his pre-professional life went in different directions recently. Chase Corniel is back at Maui High after taking a year off to attend to family matters.
“Love it, that’s awesome,” Karaviotis said. “He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had the privilege of playing for. I think I was one of his first texts when he accepted the job and told me he was coming back. It’s awesome for that program. … I was joking with him, hopefully he’s ready to throw some batting practice this offseason because I plan on being home for about three or four months this year.”
His coach at Oregon, George Horton, recently mutually agreed with the school to step away from a program he restarted 11 years ago. Horton was Kurt Suzuki’s coach for the 2004 NCAA champions at Cal State Fullerton.
“It’s definitely a bummer,” Karaviotis said. “I’m sure all the recruits coming in were really excited and looking forward to playing for such a prestigious coach like him. You’ve got to be a little bummed, but it seems like he’s at peace with the decision. What he did over his career and all the milestones that he’s a part of and all of his win records that he broke and to be part of regionals back-to-back years — the amount that I learned from him is definitely awesome.
“I wish him the best of luck in his future — he’s got a lot of time to spend with his grandkids now and they love him dearly, that’s for sure. Not sure if he’s hanging them up for good, but whatever he wants to do, I wish him luck. It was an honor to play for him.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com