It has been fairly well documented that Evan Gattis has played extremely well for the Atlanta Braves this spring. After a dynamite season in the minors last season and a crushing performance in winter ball, Gattis showed up in spring training doing more baseball crushing. Not only that but he has played much better behind the plate than many thought he could. The catcher position for the Braves it isn’t as simple as play well, make the team. It gets deeper than that.
For starters, the Braves number one catcher is still Brian McCann. Though McCann won’t be back until the latter part of April, he is the guy for sure this year. Then things get a little fuzzy. His backup will be Gerald Laird this season but McCann’s contract runs out after this season. The Braves have not been secretive about planning for Christian Bethancourt to be their starting catcher in 2014. Bethancourt hasn’t really shown that he is ready however and for that matter, McCann has never said he planned to play the free agent market.
Where is Gattis in this whole situation? He will probably start the season as the back-up catcher to Laird while McCann is on the disabled list, but that is no longer certain. As Bethancourt appears to falter slightly, it looks like Gattis might have played himself into the conversation for potentially fighting for the starting catcher job next season.
If that were so, the Braves have to decide if Gattis would develop better playing every day in the minors instead of getting sporadic at-bats at the big league level. As strange as it sounds, the level of play that Gattis has shown this season might actually get him back to the minors and on to a starting job next season, instead of a roster spot this year. This catching picture will clean up a bit after McCann comes back and the season carries on. For sure, Gattis is one to watch and might be the future starting catcher for the Braves.