Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners were tickled to acquire Ben Gamel from the Yankees in a late-August trade last season. Can he make a difference in 2016?
Ben Gamel was traded by the New York Yankees to the Mariners for two prospects in late August last season. In limited action with Seattle, he posted a .614 OPS while playing solid defense in the outfield. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto and his brain trust believe that Gamel has done everything he can at the minor league level to prove that he’s ready for the show.
In his limited MLB action at the plate, Gamel hasn’t shown much. Yet, at the minor league level, he’s torn it up. He earned the International League Most Valuable Player award for his work with Scranton/Wilkes Barre, where he posted a .365 on-base percentage with a .308 average in 2016. He’s more of a gaps hitter/speed guy than a slugger, scoring 80 runs and hitting 26 doubles and six homers, stealing 19 bases in 116 games.
The Mariners could use him in the outfield mix, which includes to this point Guillermo Heredia, Seth Smith, and possibly Danny Valencia. At this point, it appears Mariners leadership will give Gamel every chance to earn a starting gig in a corner outfield spot during Spring Training.
Although Gamel didn’t impress in his month with the Mariners, Dipoto doesn’t put too much stock in his performance during his first real major league stint, and you shouldn’t either. Gamel has shown the kind of zone discipline that the Mariners are professed to be interested in these days, showing consistent ability to get on base.
Whether he can fold all of his speed skills and smart baserunning into consistent utilization in the major leagues remains to be seen.
If you’re a Spring Training nut, expect to see Gamel plenty, with the coaching staff rooting for him every step of the way. If he can contribute offensively, he could be an asset as an every day outfielder with his glove.