Braves set to officially introduce Gattis’ story to the Major League scene

The Braves have played a key role in the development of a few feel-good stories since the turn of the century.

One of my favorite moments will always be the day Chris Hammond learned that he earned a spot in the Atlanta bullpen at the beginning of the 2002 season.   He had not pitched in the Major Leagues since beginning a two-year retirement in 1999.

Hammond surrendered three earned runs during his second appearance of the 2002 season and then allowed just two more earned runs in the next 59 appearances he made that year.  The 0.95 ERA he compiled that year ranks as the fifth best mark among all Major League relievers who have compiled at least 50 appearances in a season.

Then there will always be the tale of the former pharmaceutical representative from Australia who earned a professional contract during the inaugural World Baseball Classic and then made his Major League debut for the Braves a month later.

Seven years later, Peter Moylan is no longer with the Braves.  But the contributions the hilarious and popular sidearm reliever made during his seven seasons with the organization will never be forgotten.

Now the Braves are anxiously awaiting the chance to officially introduce Evan Gattis, who has a story even greater than those that Hammond and Moylan will always have the pleasure of telling.

Gattis is expected to make his Major League debut as he serves as the Braves starting catcher in Wednesday night’s matchup against the Phillies and Roy Halladay.   The 26-year-old rookie will have 14 friends and family members in attendance for tonight’s special event.

Among those will be Brian Reinke, the head baseball coach at University of Texas Permian Basin who gave Gattis a chance to begin playing baseball four years after he told his father, Jo, that he would never play again.

Most of you know Gattis’ story.  If you don’t click here.  If you need a quick refresher, depression led him to walk away from baseball in 2006 and begin a four-year journey as a ski lift operator, cook, janitor and young adult simply trying to find himself.   After playing one year at UTPB in 2010, he was drafted by the Braves in the 23rd round of the 2010 Draft.

Two years ago, the Braves did not a spot for Gattis on any of their Minor League rosters at the end of Spring Training.  Now the Braves are at least looking at the possibility of carrying Gattis on their big league roster throughout the entirety of this season.

Gattis will behind the plate for at least half the games that Brian McCann misses while recovering from right shoulder surgery.  When McCann makes his expected return in late April, the Braves will have to decide if it makes sense to keep Gattis’ bat on their bench as a backup outfielder and third catcher.

There is no doubt Gattis could provide value while being available to serve as a pinch hitter on a nightly basis after McCann returns.  But there is certainly reason to argue, the Braves should allow him to play catcher at Gwinnett on a daily basis in preparation for the possibility that he will be Atlanta’s starting catcher after McCann exits via free agency at the end of this season.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s sit back and allow Gattis the chance to prove himself over the next few weeks.

There was no reason to be surprised that he hit .368 with six homers during the Grapefruit League season.  On Feb. 25,  these fingers typed “If attempting to predict how Gattis will fare during the exhibition season, I’ll say that he will likely hit something north of .380 with at least six home runs.”

So  in jest, we can say he did not exactly meet my expectations from the offensive perspective during Spring Training.  But he certainly proved to be much better than advertised behind the plate.

Two months ago, I would have said there was an 80 percent chance Christian Bethancourt will be Atlanta’s starting catcher at the start of the 2014 season.  But right now, I’d put that percentage at 50 percent.

And if Gattis continues to impress while getting a chance to catch on a consistent basis over the next month, it will hard not to consider him to definite favorite to begin next year as Atlanta’s everyday catcher.

 

8 Comments

Welcome to the show, Evan Gattis. And as thrilled as i wad to see that ball fly out of the TED, I was even more thrilled to see the way he worked with Malholm from behind the plate. matter of fact, well called and very little confusion between a rookie catcher and a seasoned vet. Really well done. Whoever questioned EG behind the plate prior to this spring wasn’t watching games the same way i watch them. Maybe the same guy who thought Simmons was a small bat SS. I think QTip needs to start looking for a trade partner for Laird. Even if we need to eat a little salary, that move needs to be made. Pagnozzi can fill the backup slot until BMac gets back. And Bethancourt is starting to look like an option in the rear view mirror,.

Feels great to crush the Phillies in week 1… but let’s wait and see how they fare against a decent team before getting all excited.

Crush the Phillies? Spoke too soon didn’t you? Hope you guys enjoyed your 2 days tied for first place. But look at it this way, not every team gets to have their WS in April. Enjoy while you can. And, how did the Bring Your Cat to the Ballpark work out this evening. It seems that those swinging their cats were in no danger of hitting another fan.

lol, nope… pretty sure the braves spanked the phillies for two games and won the series.. but cliff lee was good tonight for sure. If you read my comment, I wasn’t exactly claiming anything about the Braves… but I did say the Phillies were bad. Are you here to claim otherwise?

Awww. The guy with the little weinus and the dead cat is back. Yeah sharing 1st place with the Nats is a lot more fun than sharing last with the Frillies. I know i was having more fun because the Zo Zone(Frilly Blog) was just filled snivelling. Haven’t heard that much crying since the last time at the maternity ward.

Welcome back, zippy. Banjo lessons end early today? Or, were you waiting for the annual denture drop in your neck of the hollow?

well, this is at least a little more creative than “ATTENDANCE!!111″

Oh, just wait his Deliverance rant has been old forever, too.I guess he doesn’t take into account those Pennsylvanians that voted for Man on Beast Rick Santorum, one of the knuckle dragger families they have been digging out of Neanderthal ruins in France.

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