Brewers Call Up Top Prospect Mat Gamel
By Todd Welter
Brad Nelson could not hit at the Major League level and Mat Gamel has been hitting so well in the minors that this move seemed inevitable. In need of a left-handed bat off the bench, the Brewers recalled their top prospect from Triple-A Nashville. The announcement came after the Brewers' 8-6 win over the Florida Marlins. Nelson was outrighted to Triple-A Nashville to make room on the roster after he failed to get a hit in 21 at-bats.
The left-handed hitting Gamel will join the team for Thursday' game against Florida. In 33 games for the Nashville Sounds, Gamel hit .336 with eight home runs and 31 RBI. Expect Gamel's call up to resemble much like Prince Fielder's first call up in 2005.
"I spoke it over with [Brewers general manager] Doug [Melvin], he mentioned this, we are going to treat this similar to when Prince came up," Brewers manager Ken Macha explained. "Probably get some pinch hits, get acclimated to the Major Leagues. He may get a start. We'll see and then we play the Twins and we got an opportunity to maybe DH there."
The Brewers play the Minnesota Twins in interleague play May 22-24 at the Metrodome. Gamel had a September call up last season in which he went 1-for-2 in two at-bats.
There are some concerns if Gamel can play the field. He is a third baseman by trade but his defense is very reminiscent to when Ryan Braun tried to man that post. Gamel has committed eight errors so far this year and had 32 errors last season where he split time between Class AA Huntsville and Nashville.
"He's had some errors down there," Macha acknowledged. "I thought in spring training he wasn't really terrible out there. The reports are if he just has to react on the ball, he winds up making a good play."
"Most of his errors have been balls hit right at him and he's got to think about what he is going to do with the ball."
Macha did not seem too concerned as he believes bench coach Willie Randolph will be able to help him much like he has done with Rickie Weeks and Bill Hall.
The one guy that the coaching staff could not turn around was Nelson.
"He's good people, you pull for him," Macha said. "Perhaps he put too much pressure on himself."
Nelson earned a spot on the roster with a great spring training but it never carried over into the regular season as he struck out nine times and could not be that power bat off the bench. The Brewers need some pop on the pine and a DH for interleauge play as the only other pinch hitting/DH options are Chris Duffy, Craig Counsell, and Casey McGehee--neither of which possess a ton of pop. Catcher Mike Rivera will be with the team soon but he too is not a guy that can change the outcome of a game with one swing of the bat.
Nelson has 72 hours to either accept the assignment to Nashville or become a free agent. According to the Journal-Sentinel Brewers beat writer, Tom Hardicourt, Gamel is not expected to be platooned with Hall at third base despite Hall's struggles hitting right-handed pitching--Hall is hitting .215 against right handers and Hardicourt reports Melvin is not looking to trade Hall to give Gamel more at-bats.