2014 Statistics: .261/.308/.340, 13 SB
2014 Level/Roster Status: Double-A/Non-40
Ok, I was wrong about Ben Gamel. Back in February I identified the outfielder as a player to watch for the 2014 season. It's not that I thought he would prove to be a can't-miss prospect, but I hoped he could continue to improve his game like he did last year and set himself up for a chance in the majors. I guess saying that he was performing at the same level as Mason Williams isn't really a good thing. After noting that he had never finished with an OBP under .340, Gamel rewarded me with a mere .308. That number can be attributed to Gamel's inability to walk in 2014. He essentially did the same with the bat this year as he did last year, collecting 30 more hits this year, but also walking only 6.1% of the time, his lowest mark since 2012.
Despite an inability to get on base and no power to speak of, it wasn't all bad for Gamel this year. He played in a career-high 131 games at the Double-A level and finished the season tied for third in hits (142) and fifth in doubles (31) among all Eastern League batters. Even if his overall numbers aren't impressive, any time you lead the league in hits, you've done something right. He also stole 13 bases, showing off that he possesses some useful speed, however it's hard to become anything as a singles hitter without having elite speed and defense. If things miraculously work out for Gamel, he's likely looking at a fourth outfielder-type role at the absolute best.
The thing about Gamel is that, at 22 years old and no real hype connected to him, he's basically a fringe fringe prospect. As in he's almost someone you almost have to pay attention to. A good season could have put him on the edge of your radar going into 2015, but now it's unlikely anything will happen with him any time soon. He's likely to repeat Double-A, at least to start the season, but if he doesn't rebound it looks like he'll be another prospect who showed some promise in A-ball, but went on to flounder in the higher levels. It would be nice to say that there's hope for him yet, but I'm not really sure there is. Whatever he can do for the organization at this point, and I'm not even talking about the major league team here, will just be a bonus.