When the rumors were flying last year of CC Sabathia becoming a Brewer, everyone wondered which young stud from the Brewers farm system would be traded: Matt LaPorta or Mat Gamel.
As we all know, LaPorta was the center piece of the trade that brought Sabathia to Milwaukee. The Brewers went on to make the playoffs for the first time in 26 years and the Indians got one of the top hitters in the minor leagues.
LaPorta was recently called up by the Indians, and he has already hit his first career home run. Brewer fans need not worry; Mat Gamel isn't far behind of his former teammate.
Gamel is swinging a huge bat right now at Triple A. He is batting .350, has an on-base percentage of .435, and is slugging an impressive .709. That comes out to an OPS of 1.144.
Gamel best attribute at the plate is the boom stick he carries with him. In only 28 games this year, Gamel has 20 extra-base hits, including 11 doubles, a triple, and eight home runs. He has driven in 30 runs and scored 22 of his own.
Gamel currently plays third base for the Nashville Sounds, but he is every bit the butcher at third base that Ryan Braun was when he came up through the Brewers' system. He has already committed seven errors this season.
Gamel has done enough at Nashville to warrant a call-up to the Brewers. With his fielding issues, however, the call to stay won't be coming anytime soon.
What Gamel can look forward to is the Brewers' six-game stretch in American League ballparks in June. The Brewers will travel to Cleveland and Detroit, which will give Gamel the chance to show off his bat in big league ballparks.
He is perfectly suited to get the call to the Majors and serve as designated hitter for six games. This will give him a chance to show off his bat while hiding his problems in the field.
Gamel will likely spend the rest of the season in Nashville after his brief cup of coffee with the Brewers. Next season will be the time for Gamel to take the next step as a full-time major leaguer.
It won't be easy for Gamel though. Bill Hall is playing great at third base this year, and Hall still has another year left on his contract. Hall could be a candidate for a trade, or he could move back to the outfield with Mike Cameron's departure.
Gamel could be the one to move to the outfield too. Corey Hart or Ryan Braun could transition to center and Gamel could take a corner outfield spot. Those three would make up perhaps the most power-filled outfield in all of baseball.
The least attractive option would be to trade Gamel for pitching. As wonderful as making the playoffs were last year and watching CC Sabathia for a summer, the Brewers can't trade their top prospect two years in a row.
The Brewers can still add quality pitching by trading other prospects and incorporate Gamel's bat into the lineup.
Gamel will be next in a long line of prospects that have come to the team swinging a big bat. The question is no longer if Gamel can play in the majors but when. Whenever that day may be, Brewer fans can rest assured that he will produce as much as all those that have come before him.
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