The New York Yankees promoted rookie outfielder Ben Gamel to the big league roster yesterday. He is a somewhat obscure prospect so let's take a look at what he offers.
Basic information from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Ben Gamel, OF, New York Yankees
Bats: L Throws: L HT: 5-11 WT: 185 DOB: May 17, 1992
2011: Grade C; 2012: Grade C; 2013: Grade C: 2014: Grade C; 2015: Grade C
Ben Gamel was drafted in the 10th round in 2010 from high school in Jacksonville, Florida. The younger brother of former major leaguer Matt Gamel, Ben hit well in the New York-Penn League in 2011 (.289/.373/.432) and the South Atlantic League in 2012 (.306/.342/.394). However, his 2013 and 2014 seasons were mediocre and he fell off prospect charts. He rebounded with an impressive 2015 season in Triple-A but opinions remain mixed. Positives: scouts have always liked his swing and give him decent comment for pure hitting skills. He shows some feel for the strike zone. He set a career-best mark in SLG last year and got to his power more frequently. He can play all three outfield positions reasonably well. Major league bloodlines are always nice. Negatives: he doesn’t have a standout tool with merely average speed, arm strength, and raw power, factors which could make him a tweener. There’s understandable concern that the ISO surge last year was a fluke given the out-of-contextness in regards to the rest of his career. He turns 24 in May so he’s not exactly a super-young prospect. All that said, Gamel could end up being a very useful role player. Grade C+.
Gamel hit .300/.358/.472 last year for Triple-A Scranton, setting career-best marks in triples, homers, slugging percentage, and isolated power. This year he was hitting .286/.346/.363 through 91 at-bats for Scranton, which is much more in line with the rest of his career.
Gamel looks like a .250-.260 hitter with adequate on-base skills and some gap pop, but the isolated power spike last year looks questionable to me since there's no sign of it this year. Given that his defensive tools profile best in the corner spots, concerns that he will be a tweener seem justified. He plays aggressively with good instincts and that might give him an edge in competition for fifth outfielder spots with similar players.
Here's a snipped from late last year with Gamel showing some quality defensive timing in right field.