posted 8 years ago
Hawaii is known for many things: Surfing, hula dancing, luaus.
This year it's also known as a place to go to see a lot of top prospects. Hawaii Winter Baseball boasts many recent high draft picks, all plying their trade on the island of Oahu.
Hawaii Winter Baseball is a developmental league in which prospects from the lower levels of the minors join up with some players from the Japanese and Korean leagues for a month and a half of games. It's similar to the Arizona Fall League, which features many top prospects from Double-A and Triple-A.
The fans are very passionate about the individual clubs, with each of the four teams having an assortment of merchandise rivaling any minor league team. It's a tremendous atmosphere to watch some games.
A couple of things to note:
1. Take the stats from the league with a grain of salt. While the Arizona Fall League is known as a hitter's league, in Hawaii, it's all about the pitching. Both stadiums the four teams use are havens for hurlers. Les Murakami Stadium is an all-turf field, with no dirt in the infield, allowing grounders to take true hops. It has huge areas of foul territory, and the winds knock down deep flies and keep them in the park. While Hans L'Orange Park is a bit of a bandbox, the swirling winds in the outfield also make it difficult to hit the ball out.
2. I scouted the league for the first week of play, and while some players had continued to work in other instructional leagues since the minor league season ended, others were coming off of a three-week layoff and still getting back up to speed, especially pitchers.