At one point time, former Milwaukee Brewers infielder Mat Gamel was considered to be the “next big thing” with that organization. He was a top-50 prospect, and was considered to be the next in line at either first base or third base, using a power bat to drive his way into a regular spot. However, things have gone south for Gamel in recent years, and he’ll be hoping that a change of scenery does him some good in Atlanta.
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) December 13, 2013
Multiple outlets are now reporting that Gamel has signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves, and this looks like it could be a good fit. The Braves are “set” in their starting infield at both 1st (Freddie Freeman) and 3rd (Chris Johnson), but they have a serious depth issue behind (read: there is no one locked in to a job), and Gamel could be the type of power-driven bench bat that they need.
In 269 MLB plate appearances, Gamel has struggled to less than a .700 OPS, but the bigger worry for him is that knee issues have really troubled him over the past two seasons, including a full-length absence during the 2013 campaign. Still, his minor league numbers are insane (slugging .500+ in his last 3 tours of duty), and a player with this type of pedigree isn’t often available for little to no cost.
Gamel will have to prove that he’s a) healthy, and b) able to hit MLB-level pitching, but if he can, the Braves may have themselves a steal.