Gamel Earns MVP Honors

Mat Gamel was voted the Hawaii Winter Baseball MVP in a voting by the media and league
officials. Gamel led or was near the lead in most of the offensive
categories. He batted .333 with a league-leading eight home runs and
tied for second with 25 RBIs.

2007 HWB All-Stars and
Post-Season Awards
Most Valuable Player: Mat Gamel (Brewers),
Offensive Player of the Year: Mat Gamel (Brewers),
Defensive Player of the Year: Justin Sellers
(Athletics), BeachBoys
Pitcher of the Year: Yutaka
Tamaki (Hanshin Tigers), BeachBoys
All-Star Team
C Michael McKenry (Rockies), Beach Boys
1B Ian Gac (Rangers),
2B Miguel Abreu
(Orioles), Sharks
3B Mat Gamel (Brewers),
SS Argenis Diaz (Red
Sox), Sharks
OF Austin Jackson
(Yankees), Sharks
OF Michael Wilson
(Mariners), BeachBoys
OF Fuminori Yokogawa
(Rakuten), Sharks
UTIL Brandon Synder
(Orioles), Sharks
SP Shiya Nakayama (Orix),
SP Yutaka Tamaki
(Hanshin), BeachBoys
SP Keisaku Itokazu
(Nippon), CaneFires
RP Ken Miyamoto (Nippon),
RP Daniel Bard (Red Sox),

“I was really trying to focus on defense,” he said. “I feel that I made
a lot of improvements over there and that was the main thing I tried to
take out of this.”

Gamel showed that his defense at third base is still a work in progress. He committed a league high 10 errors in 30 games for an .880 fielding percentage.

New Experiences

For the players, HWB was more than just sharpening their baseball skills. It was an educational experience.

“It was a good learning experience, playing with all the Japanese
players,” Gamel said. “To learn their culture, to learn what they think
about the game, their philosophies because their philosophies are
different from ours. I enjoyed it. I had a real good time.”

Besides tours to the volcanic craters on Maui and the Big Island, the
players also were given a private tour of the USS Arizona Memorial at
Pearl Harbor.

“It was great,” North Shore outfielder Brad Corley (Pirates) said.
“That’s something every person (who visits) Hawaii has to see. There’s
a lot of history of our country right there.”

Pitcher Perfect

Some of the best pitches made by HWB players weren’t on the diamond.

Honu pitcher Blair Johnson (Pirates) took advantage of his team’s
decision to send him to Hawaii. He picked the beach fronting the
luxurious Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki to propose to his girlfriend,
Jeslyn Scott. He said fellow pitchers Sean Walker (Astros) and Brett
Sinkbeil (Red Sox) helped plan the moment.

“I knew it was something that I was going to do in the offseason,”
Johnson said. “Then when I found out I was coming to Hawaii, I thought
there’s no better place than here. It was going to be on the lake in my
hometown (Topeka, KS), but why not do it in Hawaii? . . . When you have
everything down here, it’s picture perfect. I couldn’t ask for anything

Sinking In

While the Japanese dominated five of the six pitchers¹ spots on the
all-star team, Honu pitcher Brett Sinkbeil (Marlins) quietly had good
season, finishing 3-1, 1.64. He had 24 strikeouts and 16 walks in 33

“He¹s been consistent with that good hard sinker,” Bradshaw said.

While the walk totals were a little high, Bradshaw said it wasn’t a concern.

“He’ll pitch inside, try to get a little too fine on occasions and just
misses,” he said. “But for the most part, he’s been solid for us. Even
the walks he has given up, he’s able to pitch around it. Maybe in some
cases it’s been pitching around a lefty or something to get to the
righty coming up, so he’s been very smart out there.”

The 6-foot-2 righthander was ranked 16th by Baseball America in the Florida State League after going 6-4, 3.42 for Jupiter.

“I’m working on my offspeed pitches, trying to keep my changeup down and my slider more over the plate,” Sinkbeil said.

Better Late

BeachBoys first baseman Lucas Duda (Mets) joined the league late as an
injury replacement, but came out swinging. He batted .340 with six
doubles, a triple and three home runs in just 59 plate appearances. The
seventh-round pick out of Southern California in June hit .299 at
short-season Brooklyn, batting .299 with 20 doubles, three triples,
four home runs and 32 RBI with a .398 on-base percentage.

“I was happy to come out here to get some extra ABs,” he said. “It
turned out for the best. I just wanted to let the ball get deeper,
lower my hands. My hands were kind of high.”

This was actually his second time in Hawaii. He played against the Rainbows in 2006 when he played for the Trojans.

“We came here for a three-game series against the University of Hawaii,
but our coach was kind of a stickler, so we really didn¹t get out
much,” Duda said. “So this is really my first-time experience of

Learning Curve

The players aren’t the only ones improving their skills. Donovan
Mitchell (Mets) said he is picking up pointers as manager of the
BeachBoys. He was manager at Rookie-level Kingsport of the Appalachian
League during the summer, and managed in the Nicaraguan Winter League
last offseason.

“You learn a little bit just by talking to (other) coaches and you kind
of formulate your own style of coaching,”he said. “It’s a learning
experience. That’s where I’m having my fun, by learning the game here.”