Atlanta Braves slugger Evan Gattis beat out Matt Pagnozzi for the backup catcher spot on the team’s Opening Day roster. His unbelievable journey is far from over, as he will have approximately one month to prove his worth to the team.
Gattis earned his spot on the 25-man roster by posting a .358 batting average with five home runs, 15 RBI and five doubles in 53 at-bats this spring. He also played well defensively behind the plate as he committed only one error in 67 innings.
The 26-year-old spent time as a janitor and a ski lift operator in recent years. Professional baseball seemed out of his grasp, but that did not prevent him from eventually playing in college. Gattis was selected in the 23rd round of the 2010 MLB Draft by Atlanta. However, it took some time for him to get noticed by the organization.
Gattis batted .305 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI in 272 at-bats in three different Minor League levels last season, including mostly Double-A. He then batted .303 with 16 homers during the Venezuelan Winter League.
The right-handed batter will have until the end of April, when catcher Brian McCann returns from shoulder surgery, to show the Braves that he deserves to stay on the team.
If Gattis can display his great power over the next four weeks, then there is a good chance the Braves will keep him as a third catcher/pinch hitter. The fact that he played 40 innings in the outfield flawlessly during Spring Training means the team can utilize him many different ways. With that being said, if he is unable to hit in the limited opportunities he will be given over the next month, Atlanta will be forced to send him down to the minors.
For now, all the hard work Gattis has put into the game of baseball over the past four years has paid off. However, he will have to work harder than he ever has before to stay on the Major League roster.