Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 11/28/12
The legend of Evan Gattis continues to grow. At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, hes already big, but hes become Paul Bunyan-like in appearance. Satellites are needed to track his home runs. Tales of his feats and deeds are becoming mythic in proportion, crossing international boundaries. Amazing, no doubt. Especially for a 26-year-old who wandered away from the game for the better part of six years and hasnt had an at-bat above Double-A. The Braves are cautiously enamored about Gattis, a catcher who began learning left field last year because it might fast track him to the majors. Its thought Gattis is even being considered to help fill the void behind the plate for the first month of the 2013 season while Brian McCann finishes rehabbing from surgery on his right shoulder, but that duty most likely will go to Christian Bethancourt, a stronger defensive player and one of the Braves top prospects. One thing is for sure, Gattis can hit and he can hit for power. Manager Fredi Gonzalez repeatedly mentioned Gattis last summer, seemingly still in awe of his spring training power displays, and general manager Frank Wren has talked about Gattis ability to hit. He doesnt care about Gattis age and continues to look at him as a prospect. The Braves think Gattis, who has hit, and hit with power, at every level hes played, is developing so quickly that they think hell play for the big club at some point, if not sooner. Gattis damaged South Atlantic League pitchers, hitting 22 home runs for Low-A Rome in 2011. He then crushed balls and egos in the Carolina League, hitting .385 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs in 21 games for High-A Lynchburg before being promoted to Double-A Mississippi. A wrist injury caused him to miss about two months, but he still played 74 total games, hitting .305 with 18 home runs and 67 RBIs. Gattis has become a hero in Venezuela this winter, where his exploits have included hitting plenty of home runs for Aguilas de Zulia. Gattis is third in the league with eight homers and fourth with 26 RBIs in just 36 games. Hes hitting .279 overall, but has hit .317 with three homers and eight RBIs in his past 10 games through Tuesday. His two-run home run in the top of the ninth gave Aguilas de Zulia a 3-1 win on Friday. The Braves plan for Gattis to receive playing time at both catcher and in left field in Venezuela, and hes scheduled to begin next season at Triple-A Gwinnett. Not bad for someone with only 182 at-bats in Double-A. Most folks know that Gattis sojourn away from baseball included time in drug rehab, working a bunch of odd jobs in several states and seeking guidance from spiritual gurus. He played some ball at a junior college in Oklahoma, but for the most part, Gattis was away from the sport from 2004-10, when most players are developing their skills in the minors and possibly breaking into the big leagues. After years doing his thing, Gattis returned to baseball, enrolling at a school called Texas-Permian Basin. His lone impressive season led the Braves to draft him in 2010, but he wasnt in their thoughts until he joined Romes roster in 2011. Now the Braves study Gattis. They plan his path, like sending him to Venezuela this winter instead of the Arizona Fall League, and they chart his future. Theres a possible vacancy in left at Turner Field this year, and if Gattis has a massive spring, he might just skip Gwinnett. That would only add to his legend.
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