Can Evan Gattis be the right handed bat the Braves are looking for? The man nicknamed “White Bear” by his Venezuelan Winter League teammates might be considered a little old for a top prospect at age 26, but the outfielder/catcher was great this season in Class A, Double A and currently in the Venezuelan Winter League. Despite playing only half the season due to a wrist injury Gattis hit .304 with 18 home runs, 67 RBI, a .607 SLG and a whopping .995 OPS in just 74 games. He has continued his solid hitting in Winter Ball by batting .300 with 5 home runs, 17 RBI and 45 total bases in 21 games.
Gattis was a power hitting prospect out of Texas who was ticketed to attend Texas A&M until he decided to quit baseball to try and find himself by picking up odd jobs while living and traveling around the country. He was out of baseball for almost four years before heading back to school to play for the University of Texas-Permian Basin for one season. The Braves then selected him in the 23rd round of the 2010 draft. At the start of 2012 he was a non roster invitee to Spring Training where he turned heads with the power he showed against some of the Braves top pitchers.
The thought within the organization is that Gattis could possibly backup catcher David Ross until Brian McCann is ready to return from offseason surgery while still getting at bats in left field and occasionally spelling Freddie Freeman at first base.
With Martin Prado just about a lock to be moved back to third base full time the Braves will need two outfielders. Gattis may or may not be ready for the major leagues out of Spring Training but if the Braves end up spending big money on Josh Hamilton or trading for a player that will cost the team big money he could be a fit in left field.
Gattis has taken a strange journey to the cusp of the major leagues. He just might be the right fit the Braves are looking for to add to their lineup.