Ben Gamel won the International League Rookie of the Year award in 2015 and followed it up with the International League Most Valuable Player award in 2016. In late August, the Yankees wound up trading the potential Brett Gardner clone to the Mariners, who gave him a handful of starts down the stretch. The 24-year-old could eventually club 10 homers and steal 20 bases annually if his skills reach their peak, and the trade helps his avenues for playing time in the immediate future. Seattle will probably allow him to compete for a starting gig during spring training, and Gamel's defensive versatility will help his chances. Those in AL-only leagues should consider stashing him in one of their reserve spots.
Gamel, who hit a two-run home run in three at-bats during Thursday's 9-2 Cactus League victory over the Giants, could be closing in on a roster spot due to his stellar spring play, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. "I wouldn't rule it out by any means," manager Scott Servais said. "Ben has had a good spring. I like how he plays." The left-handed hitting outfielder has been holding his own against southpaws this spring, which has increased his chances of sticking on the major league roster. Friday's demotion of fellow left-hander Dan Vogelbach also helps Gamel's chances, as the Mariners would ideally prefer to have a left-handed bat on the bench. He is presumably battling the equally impressive Guillermo Heredia for the fourth outfielder role, and each player brings their own unique strengths to the table, meaning the decision is likely to come down to the wire. "Outfield-wise, Heredia is very comfortable anywhere you put him and has played an outstanding center field here this spring," Servais said. "With the bat, Gamel has more of a track record at the Minor League level than Heredia. The baserunning and some of the intangibles they bring are very similar. Heredia may be a little faster, Gamel may be a little better baserunner. It's very close. I like both players."
Gamel went 1-for-3 with a solo home run in Monday's 24-3 Cactus League loss to the Brewers. The 24-year-old went deep for the first time this spring, one of the few bright spots for the Mariners in the blowout loss. Gamel's outstanding spring includes a .310/.375/.552 line as he and Guillermo Heredia (.414/.469/.655 in 29 spring at-bats) continue to wage a spirited battle for the fourth outfielder spot.
Gamel doubled and scored in his only at-bat in Thursday's 8-6 Cactus League win over the Cubs. Gamel is now slashing .261/.320/.348 with two doubles, two RBI and five runs following Thursday's output. He's enjoyed a decorated minor league career, but hit just .188 with two doubles, one home run and five RBI over 57 major league plate appearances with the Yankees and Mariners last season. He's competing with Guillermo Heredia for the fourth outfield spot this spring and offers the versatility of being able to play all three positions.
Gamel will likely have to compete with Guillermo Heredia for the Mariners' fourth outfield spot this spring, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. The Mariners' addition of Jarrod Dyson on Friday shakes up their early projected outfield lineup. According to Divish, Seattle will likely go with Dyson in left field most days while Leonys Martin will take over in center field and Mitch Haniger will play in right. Gamel, a young left-handed outfielder with decent on-base capability (.365 OBP at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2016) was once penciled in a potential starter in one of the Mariners' corner outfield spots. Now it appears his spot on the 25-man roster may have to be won in spring.
The Mariners are hoping that Gamel proves himself capable of handling a full-time role in one of the outfield corners in 2017, the Tacoma News Tribune's Bob Dutton reports. Gamel is capable of handling all three outfield spots defensively, so the pressure will be on his bat in spring training and in the first couple months of the season. It sounds like Gamel and Seth Smith are the favorites to open the year as the starters in the outfield corners, with Guillermo Heredia and Danny Valencia serving as platoon options. Gamel, a left-handed hitter, has hit both left-handed and right-handed pitching in the minors, but struggled against all big league pitching in a brief sample last year. If his bat comes around, he offers 20-plus steal speed off the waiver wire in most formats.