Prospect of the Day: Caleb Gindl, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee Brewers outfield prospect Caleb Gindl has moved through the farm system steadily, and a solid Triple-A campaign in 2011 puts him on the verge of the major leagues.
Gindl was drafted in the fifth round in 2007, from high school in Milton, Florida. Gindl's bat was highly-respected, but his stocky body and tools were more marginal and kept him out of the first four rounds. Gindl was outstanding in his first look at pro pitching, hitting .372/.420/.580 for Helena in the Pioneer League. He followed that up with a .307/.388/.474 mark for West Virginia in the South Atlantic League in '08. Keeping with the one-step-at-a-time plan, he moved to High-A Brevard County in 2009. His batting average dropped to .277, but he it 17 homers with an overall .277/.363/.459 line.
Promoted to Double-A in 2010, Gindl had a few problems for the first time, hitting .272 with a .352 OBP but just nine homers and a .406 SLG. Scouts wondered if his power production would continue to tail off against advanced pitching. However, this year he's boosted that back up again, hitting .302/.389/.471 with 14 homers, 57 walks, and 80 strikeouts in 410 at-bats for Triple-A Nashville. He doesn't turn 23 until the end of this month, so he's in a good spot on the age curve.
Gindl is a 5-9, 205 pound left-handed hitter and thrower. His running speed is average and he won't steal a ton of bases, although he is a fundamentally sound runner. Scouts aren't wild about his physical tools by any means, but respect his work ethic and instincts. His arm is good enough for right field, and he's worked hard enough on his defense that the Brewers have given him some innings in center field, with not-terrible results. The idea here is to give him as much defensive versatility as possible to prevent him from becoming a "tweener" at the major league level too soon.
Gindl has a compact swing that he repeats consistently and a solid feel for hitting. He will flash above-average power, but at the major league level will probably be more of a 10-12 homer type guy in a full season, with doubles as well. He has a good eye, will take a walk, avoids excessive strikeouts, and has shown he can handle both breaking stuff and fastballs, at least at the minor league level.
Although he likely fits best as a fourth outfielder, especially if the Brewers are comfortable using him in center field, I think Gindl has the skills necessary to have a productive major league career. He strikes me as the kind of player who will sneak up on people and have some surprisingly impressive seasons at his peak.