Scouting Snapshot: Caleb GindlIt was a bit surprising to see Milwaukee break camp this spring with just four outfielders, but when they did, Caleb Gindl became the odd man out. It’s been a slow start to the season for Gindl but he’s hit safely in seven of his last nine games and has been seeing time at all three outfield positions. I took a look at a few of his recent games for our latest installment of the Scouting Snapshot.
BACKGROUND: Milwaukee used their 5th round pick in 2007 to select the 5’9″ Gindl out of Pace High School in Pace, Florida. He began his pro career in 2007 at Helena, where he hit .372 with five home runs in 55 games and was named the Pioneer League’s second best prospect by Baseball America. He followed that up in 2008 by batting .307 with 13 home runs as a 19-year-old at Low-A West Virginia.
After spending 2009 at Brevard County and 2010 in Huntsville, Gindl reached Triple-A Nashville to begin the 2011 season. In 126 games with the Sounds, he hit .307 with 15 homers and 23 doubles. He returned to Nashville in 2012 where he hit .261 with 44 extra-base hits. Gindl once again began the 2013 season at Nashville, before being called up by Milwaukee in June. He made his Major League debut with the Brewers on June 15th and saw action in 57 Major League games, hitting .242 with five home runs.
With a crowded outfield in Milwaukee, Gindl began the 2014 season at Nashville again, his fourth straight opening day with the Sounds. Through his first 17 games this year, the left-handed hitting outfielder is batting .206 (13-for-63) with three doubles and a home run.
GAMES WATCHED: April 20th – April 22nd at Omaha
April 20th – Gindl was batting third and in right field for the Sounds Easter Sunday matchup with Omaha. His first at bat resulted in a routine fly ball to right field to end the first inning. His next time up he took a 1-2 pitch the opposite way and beat the shift that Omaha was playing, singling past the shortstop and in to left center. In his third at bat, Gindl got a bit too aggressive and chased a 3-1 pitch that would have been ball four. He popped it up to the catcher to end the top of the sixth. His last at bat came in the ninth inning, when down to their last strike, Gindl lined a single to center.
Defensively, Gindl didn’t see much action in right field. he had a fourth inning fly ball hit his way that fell in for a single. Gindl took a bit of a looping route to the ball, but even a straight path to it probably wouldn’t have got there. Later on, in the sixth inning, he caught a fly ball moving towards center, turned, and threw home, but his throw two-hopped to the catcher and the Omaha runner from third scored easily.
April 21st – On Monday, Gindl was again in the three spot in the lineup, but was in center field defensively for the Sounds. He went 1-for-4 with a walk. He chased a fastball up in the zone for a strikeout in his first at bat, then reached on an error in his second at bat. His grounder to second could have been a double play, but the Omaha second baseman dropped the ball attempting to tag the runner going from first to second. Gindl again chased a pitch in his third at bat, foul tipping strike three in to the catcher’s glove. In the top of the 6th, Gindl had nice execution on a hit-and-run, lining a single over the outstretched glove of the second baseman. In his final plate appearance of the day, Gindl walked on four straight pitches in the eighth inning.
Gindl saw a few balls come his way defensively in center field. In the fourth inning he did a good job of going back on a ball hit by Johnny Giovotella, then secured a routine fly ball in the sixth and a high fly ball that he camped under in the eighth without any issue.
April 22nd – In a getaway day contest on Tuesday, Gindl was again batting third and playing center field for Nashville. It was a rough day for him at the plate, going 0-for-4. In the top of the first, he took a check swing strike three. It didn’t look like he went on the pitch, but the home plate ump rang him up. In the top of the fourth inning, he swung through a changeup for his second strikeout. In the sixth inning he grounded out with two on and two out on a little tapper that the catcher pounced on in front of home plate and threw to first. His final at bat resulted in Gindl’s third punchout of the day, as he again chased a pitch that was up for strike three.
Gindl had a couple of opportunities defensively in the fourth inning. Daniel Fields ripped a pitch in to the gap in right center to lead off the inning. Gindl couldn’t get to it and then didn’t pick it up cleanly and Fields trucked around to third with a triple. Later in the inning, Gindl camped under a fly ball to center field with a runner on second base, rather than getting behind it and the runner was able to tag and move from second to third as Gindl didn’t get much on his throw.
THE SCOUTING REPORT: At just 5’9″ Gindl’s height will always come in to question, but it hasn’t proven to be an issue to this point in his career. He can play all three outfield positions if needed. Serviceable in center field, he has a strong enough arm to play right as well. Gindl has a short, compact stroke, and generates surprising pop given his size. Naturally, as a left-handed hitter, he hits right-handed pitching better than lefties, but isn’t a liability against southpaws either. He has shown to be a slow starter each of the past few seasons, but has picked things up as the season progresses. Once noted for his patience and good eye at the plate, Gindle seems to have become more aggressive in recent years and will chase pitches, especially up in the zone.
PROJECTION: Milwaukee is presently pretty well set in their outfield with the likes of Carlos Gomez, Ryan Braun, Khris Davis and Logan Schafer, so playing time at the big league level will be tough to come by for Gindl. During his time with the Brewers in 2013, Gindl showed that the Miller Park stage was not too big for him to handle and he could easily earn a Major League roster spot if not for the talent ahead of him. His immediate future with the Brewers will be as outfield depth in case of injury, but he could prove to be a valuable piece for Milwaukee as the season moves along. With the quartet of outfielders already standing in his way, Gindl’s long term future could come with a different organization, but, be it in Milwaukee or with another club, Gindl should see regular playing time down the road as his career progresses at either corner spot or as a fourth outfielder.