Gindl Grinds Through Learning Experience
Since the day he was selected in the fifth round of the 2007 draft, Caleb Gindl has been known as a "grinder," a player who goes out and competes hard every day, giving his all.
Never has that trait been tested more than this season.
The 21-year-old outfielder has been challenged at Huntsville, having a somewhat difficult time adjusting to Southern League pitching after seeing things go pretty much his way during his first three professional seasons.
"The pitching is a lot better," said Gindl, a product of Pace (Fla.) High. "At (high Class A) Brevard (County), you didn't see as many guys with good offspeed stuff as you see here. And everybody has a good fastball.
"The pitchers are more polished. When you get your pitch, you can't miss it because you might not get another one in that at-bat to hit. You've got to hit it when you get your pitch."
Through 101 games with the Stars, Gindl was batting .275/.351/.398, with seven home runs and 43 RBIs. He continued to be tough to strike out, whiffing only 54 times while drawing 43 walks.
That .749 OPS represented a considerable drop from the .874 OPS Gindl compiled over his first three minor league seasons.
"It's definitely been tougher for me," admitted Gindl. "I've been putting the ball in play but you have no control where it goes. Sometimes I feel I've put a good swing on the ball without getting any results.
"I haven't gotten super hot all year. Usually, I have at least one really hot streak. I'm still looking for that breakout stretch. There's still a month to go. Anything can happen."
Record Of Success
Despite his squatty 5-foot-9, 185-pound physique, Gindl established himself as a hitter to be reckoned with immediately as a pro. He won the Rookie-level Pioneer League batting title with an impressive .372 average at Helena in 2007, compiling 22 doubles, three triples, five homers and 42 RBIs in 55 games.
Gindl was rated the second-best prospect in the PL and the 10th-best prospect in the Brewers' system.
With a compact stroke and good hand-eye coordination, Gindl continued to prosper offensively the next season at low Class A West Virginia. There, he batted .307/.388/.474 with 13 homers and 81 RBIs. Gindl's strikeouts soared that year with 144, compared to 63 walks, but he had the makings of a young hitter to watch, pounding 38 doubles.
Though limited to 112 games by injury, Gindl continued to produce last season at Brevard, batting .277/.363/.459 and ranking second in the Florida State League with 17 homers and fifth with 71 RBIs.
The Brewers continued to push Gindl, moving him to Huntsville this year despite the fact he won't turn 22 until the end of the season.
"I don't think much about (being a younger player at the Double-A) level," Gindl said. "I don't really look at it that way. I just see myself like any other player.
"I expect to do just as well as I always have. I expect a lot out of myself, whether I'm one of the younger players or not."
Gindl has tried to avoid becoming frustrated at not having the same results as in past seasons. His intensity can work against him during tough days at the plate, such as the 0-for-6 collar he took the night before he did this interview.
"It's a little bit frustrating at times," he said. "I still play hard every day and go wide open. It gets aggravating when you don't get the results you want to get.
"You've just got to hang in there and stay mentally tough, keep going after it. I think my attitude has been the same every day, whether it's been good or bad. I try to put the bad days behind me. The next day is a new day."
Move To The Middle
The Brewers threw another challenge at Gindl at midseason when they moved him from right field to center. Lorenzo Cain had been the regular center fielder, but he moved up to Triple-A Nashville after a successful first half, during which he ranked second in the Southern League with a .324 average.
The original plan on the organizational depth chart was for Cain to begin the season as Nashville's center fielder and Logan Schafer to play that position in Huntsville. But Schafer, the Brewers' minor league player of the year in 2009, suffered a sports hernia before the start of spring training, missed two months and then was lost for the season with a broken foot after only seven games at Brevard.
So, with Schafer out and Cain promoted, the Brewers asked Gindl to play center field. An average runner at best, Gindl has worked hard on using his instincts and getting good jumps.
"I just said, 'Give me four or five games to get comfortable, and we'll go from there,' " Gindl said. "I told them I'll be fine.
"I've made the plays I'm supposed to make. There's a lot of ground to cover out there. But it's actually a little bit easier to track balls because in the corners, the ball tends to spin toward the line. The first couple of steps are very important."
Where Gindl eventually lands in the outfield remains to be seen. He figures he might see action in left field at some point but is willing to do what is asked of him.
As for the battle to become an offensive force again, Gindl said, "It's been an OK year. It hasn't been great but it hasn't been terrible. I'm just out there grinding every day."
Which, in the end, is what Gindl does best.