The 2008 HWL season has come and gone and some intriguing prospects had solid performances over the past five weeks. This article will chronicle the top 10 offensive performances as well as the top 5 pitching performances from this year’s HWL league. While not all of these prospects are, or ever will be, household names, their performances deserve some notice.
#10) Ryan Kalish—Boston Red Sox OF
.282/.446/.366 1 HR 9 RBI 13 SB (21 BB/14 K)
- Kalish is a highly talented OF whose skill set is a cross between fellow Red Sox Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew. He will likely begin the 2009 season at hitters paradise Lancaster where his numbers will blossom. His 2008 Bowman Chrome autograph is a popular card that can be had at $13-16 each right now on Ebay.
#9) Miles Durham—Pittsburgh Pirates 1B
.273/.338/.430 3 HR 28 RBI 24 R
- Durham finished second in RBI’s but his status as a top prospect is limited due to the fact that he will be 26 years old by the start of the regular season. With the presence of Adam LaRoche and Steven Pearce ahead of him, Durham will have a tough time earning a big league job.
8.) Kyle Peter—Detroit Tigers OF
.370/.416/.467 1 HR 12 RBI 11 SB 20 R
- Peter has top of the order speed (he stole 42 bases at Low-A Western Michigan) and a solid line drive bat. Don’t expect much power from him, but he could provide value to a club down the road as a speedy, defensive 4th outfielder.
7.) Todd Frazier—Cincinnati Reds SS/3B
.295/.375/.547 3 HR 22 RBI 19 R
- Frazier has a potent bat that produced 19 HR and 74 RBI over two levels this past season. Frazier has more value if he can stay at 3B, though his defensive range and strong arm will likely land him in the crowded 3B mix in Cincinnati’s farm system. Frazier’s 2007 Bowman Chrome and Bowman Sterling autographs can be bought on Ebay for $8-10 each.
#6.) Brad Emaus—Toronto Blue Jays 2B/3B
.333/.447/.494 2 HR 12 RBI 18 R (17 BB/7 K)
- Emaushas a solid line drive bat withgap power. He played well in his first full pro season at High-A Dunedin hitting .302 with 12 HR 71 RBI and 87 runs scored. He controls the strike zone very well and grinds out AB’s. He has much more value if he can play at 2B instead of 3B as his 10-15 HR power is below average for a corner infield spot. He profiles as a solid #2 or #6 hitter in a MLB lineup.
#5.) Dominic Brown—Philidelphia Phillies OF
.389/.506/.542 1 HR 8 RBI 3 SB (15 BB/14 K)
- Brown led the HWL in hitting this year though his power has yet to fully manifest itself. Brown has a 6-5 200 lb. frame that oozes athleticism. In addition, his strike zone acumen is extremely polished for his age. Brown is one of Philly’s brightest talents and he has a long way to go before reaching his considerable ceiling. Brown has autographs in the 2008 Donruss Threads set (#’ed to 999) that sell for $6-9 each on Ebay.
#4.) Buster Posey—San Francisco Giants C
.351/.428/.431 1 HR 18 RBI 16 R
- Posey could have been the MVP of this league if he did not take time mid-season to head to the Giants’ winter training camp. Posey emerged from relative obscurity to hit .463 with 26 HR 93 RBI and 89 runs scored for the Florida State Seminoles before becoming the Giants’ 1st round pick. Posey will have autographed cards in the upcoming Bowman Chrome Draft, Bowman Sterling, and Donruss Elite Extra sets. Posey is the perfect backstop to manage the stable of exciting young arms that will be pitching in San Francisco within the next couple of seasons.
#3.) Yonder Alonso—Cincinnati Reds 1B
.308/.419/.510 4 HR 21 RBI (20 BB/23 K)
- Alonso did quite a bit to prove that he was worthy of being a 1st round selection by the Reds. Alonso demonstrated good power and advanced plate discipline. Alonso had a big year at the University of Miami hitting .370 with 24 HR 70 RBI and an incredible 76 BB/35 K ratio. Alonso will have autographed cards in the much anticipated Razor Draft Picks set as well as the minor league Tristar set (I like the design this year!)
#2.) Mark Hallberg—Arizona Diamondbacks SS/2B
.362/.423/.483 3 HR 21 RBI 24 R
- Hallberg demonstrated better power in Hawaii than he was able to muster in a full season at High-A Visalia. Hallberg is a scrappy, over-achieving middle infielder who has good baseball intangibles, but limited talent. Hallberg sprays the ball to all fields and is a tough guy to strike out. He will never be a power hitter at the MLB level and likely won’t ever earn a full time opportunity. That said, he plays with grit and determination and could stick as a part-time utility infielder.
#1.) Cyle Hankerd—Arizona Diamondbacks OF
.318/.392/.545 5 HR 30 RBI
- Hankerd led the HWL in RBI and was second in HR. His total in Hawaii matched his total in a disappointing season at AA Mobile. Hankerd has a big strong frame that should hit the ball for more power than he did this year. Hankerd has the ability to hit for good average though his power is below average for a corner outfielder. His ceiling is as a 4th outfielder at the major league level. His second tour of AA should be more successful.
Top Pitching Performers:
#5.) Jeremy Papelbon—Chicago Cubs RHP
1-0 2.45 ERA 1.16 WHIP 9 BB/16 K (14.2 IP)
- Papelbon did much to follow in his brother’s footsteps by leading the HWL in saves. Papelbon, at 26, is too old to be pitching at High-A though he did have a solid season. Likely, Papelbon will be a middle inning pitcher at the big league level. If his older brother Jon wasn’t so stinking good, Jeremy would not garner nearly as much attention.
#4.) Jeremy Bleich—New York Yankees LHP
3-2 1.77 ERA 1.15 WHIP 12 BB/33 K (35.2 IP)
- Bleich was a supplemental 1st round pick by the Yankees out of the University of Stanford. Bleich did not pitch overly well in college, but the Yankees like his competitive demeanor and array of off-speed pitches. Bleich seems to be a finesse lefty who could put up better numbers as a pro than he did as a collegian. Bleich will have autographed cards in the upcoming Razor Draft Picks set.
#3.) Scott Shaw—New York Mets RHP
2-2 2.51 ERA 0.65 WHIP 9 BB/35 K (32.1 IP)
- Shaw, like Bleich, did not have a sterling collegiate career, yet he has performed much better as as pro going 6-3 with a 2.80 ERA and 79 K’s in 74 IP at Low-A Brooklyn. Shaw has a thick 6-5 230 lb. frame that looks to be able to handle a sizable workload as a mid-rotation starter. He is a long way off and is by no means a sure thing. He is one, though, that is worth keeping an eye on this coming season.
#2.) Kyle Bloom—Pittsburgh Pirates LHP
2-0 1.50 ERA 0.86 WHIP 11 BB/32 K (30 IP)
- At 26, Bloom was one of the older players in the HWL which may be why he had so much success. Bloom’s ’08 regular season at AA Altoona was quite pedestrian, going 5-8 with a 4.19 ERA and a 55 BB/93 K ratio in 109.2 IP. Bloom has rookie cards in the 2004 Bowman Chrome Draft and SP Prospects set, though, his ceiling as a middle reliever and spot starter are not worth getting too excited about.
#1.) Satoshi Nagai—Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles RHP
4-2 1.94 ERA 0.86 ERA 10 BB/48 K (41.2 IP)
- Nagai was a 1st round pick in Japan and he demonstrated his worth by being dominant in several outings in Hawaii. The demure 5-10 160 lb. Nagai has a deceptive delivery and good control of his off-speed pitches. That helped keep many HWL hitters guessing at the plate.
I hope you enjoyed a closing glance at some of the top performers from the 2008 Hawaiian Winter League. Stay tuned for my synopsis of the Arizona Fall League shortly after the AFL championship game. Until then, happy prospecting!