He’s 26 years old and has but 933 plate appearances in professional baseball, none above the Double-A level. But don’t for a second think that Evan Gattis isn’t considered a legitimate prospect by the Braves. They know they have a special case with the big Texan catcher-turned-left fielder, who keeps responding to new challenges by crushing baseballs.
The Gattis legend has spread to Venezuela this winter, where he’s picked up the nickname “El Oso Blanco” (White Bear) from his mostly Latin teammates on the Aguilas squad while hitting .324 with five homers, 16 RBIs and a 1.009 OPS in 18 games through Thursday. And can I just say, that’s a damn fine nickname.
Gattis was tied for fourth in the Venezuelan Winter League in homers, fifth in OPS, and had six doubles and a league-high 43 total bases.
After getting off a torrid start at Class-A Lynchburg in 2012 season but then missing nearly half of the season with a wrist injury soon after his promotion to AA Mississippi, the Gattis train is picking up steam once again.
For those unfamiliar with the unique Gattis story, how he was out of baseball for nearly four years while traveling the western U.S. and doing a variety of part-time jobs to support himself while he sought out his purpose in life.
He got an invite to big-league camp in after hitting 22 homers and posting a .986 OPS in 88 games at Class-A Rome in 2011.
This season he was a man among boys at high-A Lynchburg, batting .385 with nine homers, 29 RBIs and a ridiculous .821 slugging percentage and 1.289 OPS in 21 games before being promoted to Double-A, where he was to play mostly left field and occasionally catch.
Despite missing about two months with a wrist injury that was worse than originally thought, Gattis came back and had 26 extra-base hits (four triples, nine homers) with 37 RBIs and an .865 slugging percentage in 49 games for Mississippi. He finished the season with a .305 average, 18 homers, 67 RBIs and a .995 OPS in 74 games (314 at-bats), and only 43 strikeouts.
----- Source: MLB.com
Gattis rounds third base after homering at AT&T Field on August 4, 2012.
- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt