A few weeks ago, Braves farm hand Evan Gattis was all the rage in the media. His colorful personal journey was told, and re-told, and his daily exploits in the Venezuelan league were tracked like the Dow Jones.
We learned that the 6’3″ 235 pound Gattis was nicknamed El Oso Blanco “The White Bear” by the Venezuelans, and that he was a serious contender for the Braves open left field position.
Since Justin Upton was acquired to play left field, the Evan Gatts train has slowed. He is now a bit player in the soon to unfold drama called spring training, not the leading man that he was up until the Justin Upton acquisition. Rather than compete for the starting job in left field, he will be vying to pick up the catching scraps that are available due to Brian McCann‘s shoulder surgery, and perhaps a bench spot when McCann returns.
Unfortunately, the Braves may never find out if Gattis has what it takes to make an impact in the major leagues in a starting role. He’s not going to supplant Brian McCann at catcher, or Justin Upton in left field. And pinch-hitting a few times a week won’t show the Braves what he’s got, either.
To use major league baseball organizational terminology, with McCann and Justin Upton playing his positions, Gattis is “blocked.”
We’re learning now that McCann may not be ready until late April or May, but we’ve also learned that Gattis doesn’t have the defensive skills to assume a major league catching position right now on an every day basis. He needs more seasoning at the position to play on a frequent basis, and quite frankly, it appears left field is where he belongs.
If Gattis has a big spring that would be nice, but what would it mean long-term? He needs to play every day, and continue to build on what he has done in the minors, and Venezuelan league, to increase his worth to the Braves as a back-up should an injury occur, or as a trade chip.
So the question is posed: Will the Braves showcase Evan Gattis in the spring to set up a potential trade opportunity? Or will fate intervene, and a position will open up due to injury or circumstance?