Evan Gattis learned on Wednesday that he made the Atlanta Braves‘ Opening Day roster out of spring training. It was an emotional moment for the 26-year-old who has taken a road less traveled to get to this point. It’s also well deserving. He has sustained excellent hitting from the minors in 2012 (.305, 18 home runs, 67 RBI) to winter ball this offseason and into the 2013 spring training. He has also proven to be a reliable fielder with just one error in 87 innings this spring at catcher and outfield.
Gattis looks to be a valuable asset to the MLB team. The question now becomes in what role?
The immediate future should provide Gattis with the opportunity to share catching duties with Gerald Laird for close to a month. His emergence allows the Braves to be more patient with Brian McCann as he returns from shoulder surgery–a move I believe benefits both parties for multiple reasons. Manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that Gattis is not necessarily being viewed as a backup catcher. “I didn’t tell him he was going to be the backup guy. He could split time with Laird right down the middle, or maybe he could get even more time.”
That’s a promising statement in regards to his immediate future, but what about the rest of the season and moving into the future?
McCann will inevitably return to the lineup, which will create a crowded roster. As we’ve seen with the Jonny Venters‘ injury, these things can work themselves out. Injuries do happen and that can make the decision easier. If not, the Braves will have a tough choice to make and would likely be between Gattis and Jordan Schafer. Demoting Schafer would likely end his career with the Braves as he’s out of minor league options. Demoting Gattis would prove difficult, however, if he continues to hit at his torrid pace.
It’s a clouded picture for Gattis for the 2013 season. He just needs to continue hitting at the level he’s capable of, and it will work itself out. At this point, I don’t think general manager Frank Wren is quite sure what to do with Gattis. He has created a good problem for the Braves in 2013.
So what’s next for Gattis? Not sure, but if this spring is an indicator, he will only help the Braves.