Ben Gamel has certainly had an exciting season. The New York Yankees’ outfield prospect got his first taste of the Bronx earlier this season. Wednesday, he got his first start in a Triple-A All Star Game.
“It’s awesome,” Gamel said of his experience in Charlotte. “There’s no pressure, you just relax. There’s piles of good players here. I get to see players from the PCL, like Rob Segedin who I played with for years, and guys I’ve played against like Kaleb Cowart. “It’s nice to see familiar faces.
“You get to play [the other All Stars], but you don’t really get to talk to them or interact with any of them during the year. It’s been fun and a great experience so far.”
Gamel has risen to become one of the Yankees’ more intriguing outfield prospects since being a 2010 10th-round pick in the MLB Draft. The 5-foot-11 lefty has transformed himself from a contact, gap hitter to an all-around threat in the field and at the plate.
2015 was a breakout season for the now 24-year-old lefty. He had an unbelievable year as quite arguably the most unheralded Yankees prospect in a system suddenly gaining some notoriety amongst the big names.
He slashed .300/.358/.472 with 28 doubles, a career-high 14 triples and an also career best 10 home runs, bettering his previous high by six round-trippers. He showed off his speed, and while it isn’t elite, Gamel is wise on the bases, snagging 13 bases in 18 attempts.
Known for a quick bat, level swing and solid contact ability, Gamel adjusted at the plate, and while he no longer pressed for power numbers, he certainly was able to grow into them.
“I went to leg kick,” Gamel said of his tweaks at the plate. “I made my hands straighter and it gave me more room to work with. I just started driving the ball more.”
This year has been more of the same for Gamel. He was rewarded with an early May call up to The Show.
“It was a dream come true, it was kind of surreal,” Gamel said. “I was honored for the opportunity.
“It was out of the blue, I was FaceTiming my sister and talking to her little kids and my manager called. I was like, ‘I got to take this!’”
Gamel didn’t see a lot of action in his brief stay in New York, not even seeing an at bat in his first two appearances, being used as a defensive replacement. He eventually did get a hit in his first at bat, and in his next start, he scored the go ahead run in a 10-7 victory over the defending World Champion Kansas City Royals.
Gamel didn’t just enjoy his opportunity to play, he learned some valuable lessons.
“There are a lot of really good veteran players on the team that have had really, really good careers,” Gamel said of being around names like Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Jacoby Ellsbury and a bevy of others. “Not even necessarily picking their brain, but watching their game and how the go about their business. It was eye opening.”
Gamel showed his greatest value as an asset to the organization. He isn’t limited to one spot in the outfield, with the versatility to play all three positions. He has good enough speed and arm strength that he can cover ground anywhere in the outfield, and his instincts keep errors to a minimum.
His bat clearly plays well everywhere, possibly even better than the average center fielder, the position he’s seemed most comfortable with over his career. Once in New York, he played in right field, something he was not quite accustomed to.
“I hadn’t played right field for so long until I got to the big leagues this year,” Gamel said laughing. “I last played in 2011, it’s been a long time.