ATLANTA -- A number of Carolina League pitchers were pleased to learn the Braves have promoted Evan Gattis to Double-A Mississippi. This anticipated promotion was made after highly-touted catching prospect Christian Bethancourt strained his right hamstring on Sunday.
While Bethancourt is sidelined for what the Braves hope is not much more than a week, Gattis will share the catching duties with Matthew Kennelly and also spend time in left field. The 25-year-old catcher spent the early portion of this month introducing himself to the outfield and played three games in left field before being promoted from Class-A Advanced Lynchburg.
"When Bethancourt gets back, he'll still do some catching," Braves assistant general manager Bruce Manno said. "But he'll probably transfer a little more to the outfield as he gets a little more comfortable with it. It's a process. So we have to prepare him right and make sure he is ready for it."
A late developer who joined the professional ranks after overcoming his battle with chemical dependency, Gattis led the South Atlantic League in batting average (.322) and home runs (22) in just 88 games last year. He continued to impress during Spring Training this year and earned this latest promotion after hitting .385 with nine homers and a 1.289 OPS in 21 games with Lynchburg.
While the Braves want Gattis to catch enough to remain familiar with the position, it seems he could reach the big leagues sooner if he proves he can find some comfort in the outfield.
"He's a workaholic," Manno said. "So he'll work at it. I know he'll work and be as prepared as he can be to do this. He doesn't want to give up on the catching, which I think is great. The more versatility he has, the more value he has."