If you're outside of the Milwaukee Brewers' fan base, you might not know who Mat Gamel is.
Gamel was a fourth-round pick by Milwaukee back in 2005, is one of their top three prospects, and is playing third base for AAA Nashville this year.
Gamel, 23, stands 6-foot and comes from Jacksonville, FL. Many scouts point out his short, compact stroke, and his quick hands at the plate.
Some "experts" say that he's even better than Ryan Braun was back in 2006, and I believe them, because his offensive numbers are damn good.
Let's compare those numbers:
Ryan Braun (2006, split time between AA and AAA):
.289 avg.,118 games, 457 AB, 132 hits 31 doubles, three triples, 22 HR, 77 RBI, 76 R, 26 SB, 44 BB, 100 K. His numbers only continued to get better, but...
Mat Gamel (2008, split time between AA and AAA):
.325 avg., 132 games, 529 AB, 172 hits, 35 doubles, seven triples, 20 HR, 99 RBI, 99 R, 6 SB, 57 BB, 121 K. Better than Braun, and like any prospect, he just likes to swing the bat, which results in the high strikeout totals.
But there is one down side; his defense is atrocious. Does that sound familiar?
Braun (2006): 31 errors in 115 games and 283 chances, or one error every 9.1 chances.
Gamel (2008): 32 errors in 131 games and 377 chances, or one error every 11.8 chances. In 2007, he had a horrendous 53 errors, or one every 5.8 chances.
When Braun started out as a third baseman with Milwaukee, his defense was a little suspect too. It was the supposed downfall of his game, but it didn't stop him from winning Rookie of the Year in 2007.
Also, a move to left field, helped ease the tension to Brewer fans that Braun did not have soft hands at the hot corner.
Gamel is no different, except that there really is no other position for Gamel to move to.
Braun has signed long-term in left, the rest of the outfield and infield has depth, except at third.
This year, Bill Hall has really been a brick wall at third, with Casey McGehee and Craig Counsell providing help.
It was expected that Gamel would get a May call-up, like Braun, but that might be put on hold for now.
A full year in Nashville will (1) allow him to prove his durability, (2) try and have him cut that error total down to size and (3) let the organization see just how real his numbers are.
When he finally reaches the big leagues full-time, Gamel will no doubt be the second left-handed power hitter that the Brewers definitely need.
Will Gamel become the next Ryan Braun? I, along with the rest of Crew Nation, hope so.
The only thing I know for sure is that he can't become the next Matt LaPorta, and get shipped out of town for a star pitcher who will only stay in Milwaukee for three months.