A door to the big leagues finally opened for the longtime Brewer prospect in 2012, but has it closed again?
MVBrewers is a player-by-player look at the most valuable members of the 2012 Brewers, as voted on by you. Here's our top ten:
The series now continues with Lesser Brewers, to cover some of the remaining Brewers that we have not covered so far. This is the ninth installment in that segment. You can see all the player profiles in the Most Valuable Brewers 2012 section.
Mat Gamel waited a long time for this door to open.
In 2009, Baseball America rated the former fourth round pick as the #34 prospect in all of baseball after he hit .325/.392/.531 between Huntsville and Nashville the previous season. It was seen as a relative certainty he could hit in the majors, but there were some questions about where he would play. It's been four years and we still can't answer those questions.
Casey McGehee's play at third base in 2009 and 2010 bumped Gamel onto the back burner a bit and while he still hit in the minors, he made just 165 big league plate appearances over those two seasons. He hit in AAA again in 2011, but the Brewers didn't really have a spot for him and he appeared in just ten major league games.
Prince Fielder's departure last winter, though, could have been a game-changer for Gamel. The Brewers brought him to camp as a likely everyday first baseman and he had a big spring to lock down the opportunity. After just 21 games, though, he suffered another setback: He tore his ACL in the second inning of a game against the Padres on May 1 and finished his season.
Gamel's absence spurred the Brewers to try Corey Hart at first base, where he exceeded nearly everyone's observations. Hart is likely to remain at first for 2013 and perhaps beyond, making Gamel's future once again a question mark.
Gamel is still the same guy who raked in the minors for years, but he's also a career .229/.305/.367 hitter in 106 major league games. He's still only 27 years old, but it's hard to see where he fits on the 2013 Brewers right now.
Gamel had two of the Brewers' five hits and also drew a walk in a 4-3 loss to the Rockies on April 20. The first of those two hits was an RBI single that tied the game in the sixth inning.
Gamel is still at least one year away from being arbitration-eligible, but he is out of options so the Brewers will have to either keep him on the major league roster next spring or expose him to waivers.