Stars Realign In New York

Former Double-A Huntsville Stars teammates Mat Gamel and Matt LaPorta were reunited on the U.S. roster at the Futures Game. LaPorta found out he was selected to participate in the Futures Game when he received a text message from Cardinals center field prospect Jon Jay, but that was before the Brewers traded LaPorta to the Indians, thus inundating LaPorta’s phone with a slew of messages.

While LaPorta was swarmed by media and went 1-for-3 with a groundball single and a walk in the Futures Game, Gamel arguably had the most impressive offensive performance of any U.S. player, and that’s without even recording a hit. The lefty-hitting Gamel didn’t register an official at-bat, but he worked the count for a pair of walks

“He does a lot of things well,” said Huntsville manager Don Money. “He uses all fields. He’s got good power to left and right. He stays in there against lefties, does very good job against lefties. He’s a line-drive hitter with power.”

While Gamel struggled early last year keeping his hitting mechanics in check, he’s had few problems at the plate this season en route to a .366/.425/.591 line in 399 at-bats.

"(My adjustments are) not really mechanical, just more mental stuff,” Gamel said. “I was just thinking that my swing was screwed up when really it wasn’t; I just needed to swing at better pitches. I was getting myself out, chasing pitches out of the zone. I need to grow up in that respect to where I realize that it’s not always the swing that gets messed up; it’s the head that gets messed up."

Gamel’s defense at third base is below-average at best. Issues with his footwork have hampered his fielding and disrupted his throwing, though he did make a nice play coming in on the foul line on a slow grounder during the Futures Game. The ball was ruled to be just in foul territory.

"You can just do some first-step crossovers, just easy stuff, and sooner or later you have to start taking it into the game,” Money said. “What you do in practice, you have take into the game. And for the most part, he is. But he still makes those foolish errors. He’s made some big league plays—he’s made some great plays to his right, great plays to his left, barehanded plays, and then he’ll turn right around and you’ll say to yourself, ‘That’s the same guy that made that play yesterday?’ He just needs time. He’s had a rough couple years defensively, and hopefully he’s just maturing into what he’s doing now."