29-Year-Old First Baseman – Free Agent
2014 Fantasy Baseball Outlook
Gamel was poised to open the season as the Brewers' starting first baseman before he reinjured the same knee that required surgery in 2012, ending his season in spring training. The 28-year-old was a ...
Mat Gamel Contract Information:
Signed a minor league contract with the Braves in December 2013.
Gamel (knee) was released by the Braves on Tuesday, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
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Mat Gamel: MLB Games Played By Position
Mat Gamel Split Stats (View Full Split Stats)
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Mat Gamel: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Gamel opened 2012 as the Brewers' starting first baseman before a torn ACL ended his season in May. Corey Hart played first base in Gamel's place and fared so well that Brewers want to keep him there in 2013. The Brewers may float Gamel's name in trade rumors this offseason, but with Hart scheduled to become a free agent after 2013, the team may opt to hang onto him and play him in a utility role next year. Look for Gamel to work on his defense at other positions this spring as part of an effort to increase his versatility and provide himself a clearer path to part-time at-bats.
Gamel has spent the better part of the last three seasons at Triple-A Nashville. In 2011 he hit .310/.372/.540 with 28 home runs while taking great strides to improve his contact rate. The Brewers may be ready to give Gamel a starting job at first base in 2012, though there are concerns about not only his ability to make contact, but also his hitting ability against left-handed pitchers. He may be a prime candidate to get platooned even if he does win the starting spot so keep that in mind when gauging his playing time for the upcoming season.
Gamel missed the first half of 2010 due to a shoulder strain and spent the second half at Triple-A Nashville. He started slow at Nashville, but finished with a .309/.387/.511 line in 82 games. The most encouraging sign was that he got his contact rate up to 79 percent. This is a big deal because a lack of contact was a major factor in him getting sent back to the minors in 2009. The second issue that he'll need to work out is a position on the field. The Brewers started working him in the outfield and first base late in the season because it doesn't look like he'll be able to stick at third base. There are very few openings in the Milwaukee lineup so it's quite possible that he gets traded at some point.
Gamel was a big disappointment in 2009, failing to stick with the Brewers after being called up in May. Some people will say that it was because he wasn't allowed to play on a consistent basis, but there were some warning signs even before he was called up. His contact rate at Triple-A Nashville had plummeted in the weeks leading up to his promotion and he never got that fixed. Combine that with below average defense at third base and you'll earn a trip back to the minors. Gamel may not have enough power to play a corner outfield position and his defense at third base may not improve enough to allow him to play there. This leaves him as somewhat of a tweener to major league teams. The Brewers could be shopping him around during this offseason to see what he could bring back in return. If he stays with the Brewers his role is very unclear. Casey McGehee outplayed him at third base in 2009 and Gamel hasn't played a day in the outfield during his career. Be careful where you draft him because he may not be a starter when the season begins.
Gamel had an OPS over 1.000 in April, May and June and then completely collapsed to put up an OPS of .638 in July and .656 in August. Some of that drop off can be attributed to a right elbow injury that he tried to play through, but part of it was that he hit above his head in the early part of the year. Overall, he still had a great season at Double-A Huntsville and is still a top prospect, but he doesn't have a position that he can play well in the field and his path to the majors is cloudy. The Brewers would love to start him at third base to open the season, but he committed 30 errors in 126 games there last season and many people don't think he'll ever be able to play third in the majors. He may need to move to a corner outfield position where he'll take a hit in value on both the real and fantasy level. Unless his bat forces his way onto the team in the spring, he's likely headed to Triple-A Nashville so he can continue his work at the hot corner.
Gamel is a very intriguing prospect because he's been flying under everyone's radar. He can hit for average, and he has good patience at the plate. The problem is that he had 55 errors in 128 games at third base in 2007. The Brewers are going to leave him there for at least one more season before switching him to an outfield spot if he doesn't improve.
Gamel continues to impress, but isn't on many prospect lists. He hit .288 with 17 home runs and 52 walks in 493 at-bats for Low-A West Virginia in 2006. At 21, he's a little old for Low-A ball, so the Brewers may need to push him a little bit. He's shown good plate discipline and power in the low minors and could be a sleeper third base prospect.