The Cleveland Indians added some much needed depth to their roster of outfielders over the last few days.
The Tribe signed both Billy Hamilton and Ben Gamel to Minor League contracts and invited both players to Spring Training.
Here is a quick profile on both of these new outfielders.
Hamilton Brings Blazing Speed to Tribe Outfield
6/14/15 #Reds Billy Hamilton steals 5 bases in one game against the #Cubs. 3 of those were on Jon Lester, who allowed 44 stolen bases in 2015, the most ever conceded by a lefty pitcher.😳 pic.twitter.com/n3nMqfvEdz
— Baseball Content (@MLB_Contents) April 21, 2020
Indians fans are probably very familiar with Billy Hamilton as he spent 6 of his 8 Major League seasons with the intra-state rival Cincinnati Reds.
It is hard to believe that Hamilton is still only 30 years old!
The 6 foot 155 pounder still has plenty of speed to burn on the base paths.
Hamilton has 305 career stolen bases and swiped at least 56 bags each season from 2014-2017.
In fact, Hamilton has reached at least double-digits in steals in 7 of his 8 big league seasons.
To be fair, the only year Billy did not steal at least 10 bases was the pandemic-shortened season of 2020.
Though Hamilton brings blazing speed and good defense, the main question with the switch-hitter is whether he can maintain a high enough batting average to stay in the lineup.
Unfortunately, Hamilton’s batting average has declined for 4 years in a row so that is a definite concern for the Indians.
It is unlikely that Hamilton will hit well enough to take the starting center field spot from Oscar Mercado.
The former 2nd round draft pick’s best chance to make the Indians 25-man roster is as a pinch runner and late-inning outfield replacement.
Gamel Brings Solid Defense and a Little Pop
The Billy Hamilton signing probably got a bit more press than Ben Gamel.
However, Tribe fans should not discount the signing of Gamel as he is very solid defensively.
A wild Ben Gamel appears! pic.twitter.com/RkiQdaGYcf
— MLB (@MLB) August 9, 2017
In fact, Gamel has only committed 5 errors in his 5 Major League seasons which is good enough for a .986 lifetime fielding percentage.
Gamel was drafted by the Yankees in the tenth round of the 2010 draft and is only 28 years old.
The 5-11 177 pound Floridian has spent time in the big leagues with the Yankees, Mariners, and Brewers.
Gamel had his best season with Seattle in 2017 when he hit 11 home runs, drove in 59 runs, and scored 68 runs.
The left-handed hitter has played mainly as a corner outfielder during most of his Major League tenure, and he will challenge Daniel Johnson and Jordan Luplow for playing time in right field.
Who will make the Big League Roster?
The Indians signed both Billy Hamilton and Ben Gamel to Minor League contracts because of the low risk associated with Minor League deals.
Both Hamilton and Gamel have proven themselves at the Major League level over several seasons.
However, both of these new outfielders will need to perform well in Spring Training just to make the Major League Roster.
All Tribe fans know that new slugger Eddie Rosario will be starting in left field, but the Indians have made it clear that right field and center field are both up for grabs!
The Indians pitchers and catchers report for duty on February 18th!
We have almost survived the off-season Tribe fans!
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