With Brian McCann set to open the year on the disabled list and David Ross now calling Boston home, the Braves appear primed to open the year with Gerald Laird behind the plate. While it should only be for a couple of weeks, does anyone really feel comfortable with that setup?
Enter Evan Gattis, the team’s 23rd round draft pick in 2010. He has been impressive this spring, hitting .448 with 2 HR and 10 RBI over 29 AB. If that wasn’t enough, he also has added 5 doubles. Yes, 7 K vs. 0 BB is not a very good ratio, but it isn’t a crippling number and also could be the result of a small sample size.
Splitting time between three levels last season he hit .305 with 18 HR and 67 RBI over 272 AB. Maybe the strikeouts this spring are due to the jump in level, because last season he whiffed just 43 times as compared to 31 walks. That ratio is much more palatable and helps show what he is capable of.
Gattis also had an extremely strong showing in the Venezuelan League, hitting .303 with 16 HR in 193 AB. With just 30 K, again it shows that the elevated strikeout rate this spring is not his true ability.
According to Minor League Central Gattis had a 10.0% line drive rate during his time at Double-A, so that is something we need to watch closely. His spring numbers certainly don’t indicate that as being a problem, and he also produced better numbers in the lower minors (17.6% at Single-A). In other words, don’t let that number deter you.
The Braves could opt to have him make the jump from Double-A, at least while McCann is on the sidelines. Not only is he a catcher, but he also has seen time at 1B and in the outfield. That would give the team great versatility, something anyone can use.
Baseball America, who ranked Gattis as the team’s eighth best prospect, said:
“Gattis possesses more raw power than any hitter in the system. He generates impressive bat speed with lightning-quick wrists and tremendous strength, producing power from foul pole to foul pole. He controls the strike zone and barrels the ball with consistency.”
While he is not going to see much time overall, if he does win a roster spot out of Spring Traning he could offer under-the-radar value until McCann returns. Unfortunately, his ability behind the plate could cost him this opportunity. If you are in a two-catcher format (or NL-Only league), his potential with the bat makes him well worth monitoring, though.
What are your thoughts of Gattis? Do you think he could make an impact? Why or why not?
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Make sure to check out the rest of our 2013 Prospect Reports: