What we learned in Hawaii

So, as noted in this morning's Fall/Winter League Update, the Hawaii Winter Baseball season concluded on Sunday with West Oahu's 5-1 loss to Waikiki in the HWB Championship Game. All told, five Brewers played in Hawaii this fall. Let's take a closer look at their performances:

It's worth noting before we begin that Hawaii is a bit of a pitchers' league, with a league OPS of .701, even with the DH in effect. The 2008 NL OPS, for comparison purposes, was .744, without the DH. The AL OPS was .756.

Caleb Gindl, OF

What we knew: Gindl spent the 2008 regular season in West Virginia (low-A), where he hit .307/.388/.474 in 508 regular season at-bats. Gindl turned 20 in August, and was a South Atlantic League Postseason All Star in 2008. In 2007, he led the Pioneer League (Rookie+) in batting average and finished second in OBP. He was selected to the Pioneer League Postseason All Star Team and the Baseball America Rookie All Star Team, and rated as the second best prospect in the Pioneer League and 10th best in the Brewer organization.

What we saw in Hawaii: Gindl played in 25 of the CaneFires' 36 games in Hawaii, batting .281/.361/.438 (.799 OPS) in 96 AB. He crushed righties to the tune of .409/.500/.727 in 44 AB, but hit just .160/.208/.160 in 50 AB vs lefties. During the regular season was actually more productive against lefties. He was the second youngest position player on the CaneFires, and the youngest outfielder by a year and a half. In the field, he made two errors in right, but so far that's all we know.

What to take away from it: 2008 was Gindl's first full professional season, so the simple fact that he was able to hold up through 137 games in West Virginia and another 7 weeks in Hawaii is notable. On the field, Gindl's .799 OPS was above league average, but only the fifth best on his team. All told, this is another promising step for Gindl, but it's probably about the performance one would expect from a well-regarded young prospect.

Logan Schafer, OF:

What we knew: Schafer was the Brewers third round pick in the 2008 Draft, and after a brief stop in Helena he spent most of his first pro season patrolling center field in West Virginia, where he hit .276/.306/.370 in 43 games. It's worth noting that, while this is Schafer's first pro season, he played in college and is already 22, almost two full years older than Gindl.

What we saw in Hawaii: Schafer played in 25 games for the CaneFires, hitting .253/.351/.349 (.700 OPS) in 83 ABs. He stole three bases in four attempts. Small sample size is certainly a factor, but Schafer's splits were all over the place. Nearly all of his extra base hitting came against lefties, where he hit .304/.298/.457. Against righties, his power dissipated but his plate discipline improved dramatically, to the tune of .167/.388/.194. He drew 13 walks against righties, none against lefties. He also hit .326/.420/.465 during the day and .175/.277/.225 at night. His minor league splits suggest he's always been more selective against righties.

What to take away from it: I didn't feel like Gindl played enough to get a fully accurate evaluation, and Schafer played even less. The downside of being a college player in the low minors is that is really only takes a bump or two in the road to end up past the prospect age and still in the minors. Schafer could start 2009 in Brevard County, but he'll be 23 before the season ends and at this point he hasn't done much to establish himself as an upper-echelon prospect. On a positive note, he took as many walks in 86 AB's in Hawaii (13) as he did in 206 ABs between Helena and West Virginia. If he can get his OBP up into the .350-.360 range, his low slugging percentage will be much more tolerable.

Chris Cody, SP

What we knew: Chris Cody is 24 years old and was acquired in the deal that once and for all removed Jose Capellan from the Brewers. He was showered with awards during his collegiate career at Manhattan College, had a good first pro season split between the Tigers and Brewers, and a better second year, going 6-6 with a 1.81 ERA over 114.2 IP (19 appearances, 17 starts) between West Virginia and Brevard County.

What we saw in Hawaii: Cody made eight appearances (7 starts) in Hawaii, and alternated between good and bad starts in an incredibly predictable fashion, giving up just three runs on nine hits in 19 innings of work (1.42 ERA) in starts 1, 3, 5 and 7 and giving up 11 runs on 19 hits in just 12.1 innings of work (8.05 ERA) in starts 2, 4 and 6. He did throw 4.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen, including 3.2 scoreless in long relief in the HWB Championship game Sunday. Overall, he did not factor in the decision in any of his appearances, but posted a 3.50 ERA in 35 innings of work (including those 3.2 postseason innings). Cody's 32.1 regular season innings were the fourth most thrown by any pitcher in Hawaii.

What to take away from it: At 24, Chris Cody was one of the older players on the CaneFires, and more than four full years older than some players. His flashes of brilliance were at longest 5 innings long and bookended by ineffective starts. Cody is lefthanded and had a relatively dominant season in A-ball (where he was also one of the older players), but he'll come into spring training at 25 years old without ever having pitched above Brevard County, so time is not his friend at the moment.

Cody Scarpetta, SP

What we knew: Scarpetta was an 11th round draft pick in 2007 but didn't actually take the field until rookie ball in 2008 due to a tendon injury in his hand which he explained to Battlekow in this interview. After missing a year to rehab the injury, he split 2008 between Rookie ball stops in Arizona and Helena, going 2-0 with a 2.23 ERA between the two stops in just 36.1 innings. Scarpetta turned 20 in August, and while I don't know this for sure, I'd guess he had as little or less pro experience than any other player in Hawaii. He replaced Mike Ramlow on the CaneFires' roster mid-season.

What we saw in Hawaii: Obviously, as someone who joined a short-season league midseason, Scarpetta didn't get a lot of playing time in Hawaii, but he did factor in the decision of each of his five Hawaii starts, including one postseason start, going 2-3 with a 7.96 ERA in 14.2 innings. He walked 11 over that stretch but also struck out 18, including eight in one start in a dominant win a week ago.

What to take away from it: It's hard to be excited about a pitcher who got rocked a few times and showed control issues, but I don't know how much the Brewers could have reasonably expected from a guy who had only pitched 36 pro innings and never pitched above rookie ball. Scarpetta's few bright spots were pretty bright, though, and show some hope for a guy who's still pretty young.

Mike Ramlow, RP

What we knew: Ramlow just finished his third season in the Brewers organization, and his first full season as a reliever. In 2007, Ramlow went 5-5 with a 6.11 ERA in 104.2 innings, primarily as a starter for West Virginia. In 2008, Ramlow repeated the Sally League and pitched mainly out of the bullpen (25 of 31 appearances), posting a 2.59 ERA in 90.1 innings of work with a 0.94 WHIP. Ramlow is a lefty and will turn 23 in March.

What we saw in Hawaii: Ramlow appeared in six games early in the HWB season, going 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA in 10.1 innings of work. He allowed ten hits and five walks in those innings for a WHIP of 1.45. He was replaced in Hawaii on October 21 by Cody Scarpetta with no mention of injury, so he might have been injured, the team might have just decided to replace him, or the CaneFires might have needed another starter.

What to take away from it: Not much, really. Ramlow might have found his calling as a reliever, but there's not much he could have done in 10.1 innings in Hawaii to confirm or deny that.

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