Evan Gattis Has Nothing Left To Prove in Lynchburg (UPDATED)Posted: April 25, 2012
For those of you who have been unable to pay attention to the Braves minor league system this season, you might want to start following catcher Evan Gattis. Not only has he been off to a torrid start, but his background makes it even more fascinating. Dave O’Brien wrote a great piece this spring about Gattis which you can read here.
Gattis, 25, is currently in High-A Lynchburg where is has been a man amongst boys. In 16 games, he has a .424/.507/.898 slash line with 4 2B, 8 HR (twice as many as the next closest in Carolina League) and 8/8 BB/K. He currently leads the league is most offensive categories. While his numbers are off the charts, we must remember he is a 25-year-old in High-A. It would be nice to see him moved up through the system to see how he fares against higher level pitching.
The Braves currently have catcher, and top-prospect, Christian Betancourt in Double-A Mississippi. He has struggled to the season with a slash line of .214/.241/.232. I do not see the Braves demoting him unless he continues to struggle deeper into the season. Thus, I do not see the Braves putting two catchers on the same team who may soon provide value to the big club. Both need at-bats and having them on the same team would hamper their progress.
Because of this, I could see Gattis making the jump to AAA Gwinnett. Normally, it would be unlikely for a jump this early in the season, but with Gattis already being 25, it is not out of the question. He would probably have to split time with other catchers (Boscan .196, Yepez .231), but can see the Braves pushing Gattis to see if he could be eventually be a MLB bat. I do not know if there would ever be a possibility of him changing positions, but it would provide more value and a more typical route through the minors. It would help his growth more fluidly both at the plate and if he does start playing another position. It is far from certain he would be able to hit at a high rate in the upper minors, but I think the Braves should push him more than they would a younger prospect. He has nothing left to prove in High-A, let’s see what he can do at a higher level.
UPDATE (7:45pm): As I was writing this blog, Dave O’Brien coincidentally had posted a couple tweets about Gattis. Besides stats, the most notable tidbit of information was that Gattis has played a couple of games in LF. Adding another position other than catcher will give him more value. I do not see him being anything more than a 4th outfielder and bench bat, similar to that of Eric Hinske. This will most likely mean more of a typical route through the minors with a stop at AA Mississippi.
UPDATE (4/30 10:00am): Bill Shanks has reported on Twitter that Gattis has been promoted to AA Mississippi.