<
>

Brewers summon top prospect Gamel

As Tom Haudricort reports, the Brewers have recalled Mat Gamel, one of their top prospects. But where does he fit? Gamel

    The Brewers summoned Gamel, their top offensive prospect, to the majors Wednesday night in anticipation of using the third baseman as their designated hitter in interleague play.
    To make room on the roster for Gamel, the Brewers sent reserve outfielder Brad Nelson outright to Class AAA Nashville. Nelson, who was hitless in 21 at-bats this season, including 14 pinch-hit appearances, has the right to decline the assignment and become a free agent.

    In the coming weeks, the Brewers have three interleague series on the road, where the designated hitter will be used. The first of those series is May 22-24 in Minnesota.

    Rather than wait for those series, the Brewers opted to summon Gamel from Nashville and let him get his feet get wet with some at-bats off the bench and perhaps an occasional start.

    "He'll probably get some pinch-hits, get acclimated a little bit to the big leagues," said manager Ken Macha. "He may get a start. We'll see how that all plays out.

    "This kid is probably our best prospect. I don't think the plan is to have him sitting on the bench."

    --snip--

    Selected in the fourth round of the 2005 June draft, Gamel is not known for his defense. He committed an astounding 53 errors at Class A Brevard County in 2007 and 32 combined last season at Class AA Huntsville and Nashville.

    Gamel committed eight errors this season but most came in the first few weeks and reports said he was playing better in the field recently.

    --snip--

    Bill Hall, who has started 27 games at third base, has begun to struggle again against right-handed pitching (.215 batting average). But Melvin said the Gamel move doesn't signal a platoon or the possibility of trading Hall to open the position.

    "We're not talking about a trade at this point," said Melvin. "That's not what this is about."

Maybe not. But Gamel's an excellent hitter. His line in 127 Double-A games: .329/.395/.537. His line in 38 Triple-A games: .321/.411/.607. Granted, that's not a great deal of Triple-A action, but what are you gonna do? The guy turns 24 this summer. Do you let him spend another month or two in Nashville, mashing, while Bill Hall flounders against right-handed pitchers?
The Brewers are 20-14. So are the Reds. So are the Cardinals. The Cubs are 19-14. This is most definitely not the time for timidity. If Gamel's good enough to DH, he's good enough to platoon with Hall -- who's solid against lefties -- at third base, with Hall or Craig Counsell coming in for defense when the Brewers are ahead.

The Brewers have enough talent in the organization to reach the playoffs this fall. But while that's most of the battle, there's more. In addition to getting a little lucky, you also have to get that talent on the field. The Twins didn't do that last year, and it cost them. After Gamel's stint ends as the DH, we'll see what the Brewers do with their talent.