Gattis, Uggla turn on power against Future stars

Gattis, Uggla turn on power against Future stars

PEARL, Miss. -- Dan Uggla hit a three-run home run. Chris Johnson homered and added an RBI single. Starter Mike Minor threw four scoreless innings.

But all anyone wanted to talk about after Atlanta's 10-0 win over its Future stars in Saturday's exhibition game was Evan Gattis' home run in the seventh inning.

"How far did you hit that one, man?" Uggla, who didn't see the blast live, asked Gattis in the clubhouse postgame. "Pretty far," Gattis said in a low-key tone.

Gattis, who played here at the Double-A affiliate last year and won a spot on the Braves' Major League roster this spring, drove a 3-0 pitch from Minor Leaguer Nate Hyatt high over the left-field wall and into a parking lot outside the stadium fencing.

"I played here and I know how hard it is to hit one out there," Minor said. "I never saw one like that." It was surely the signature moment for the announced crowd of 8,217 -- the largest in Trustmark Park's nine-year history.

"That's about as good as I can hit a baseball," said the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Gattis, who hit six homers for the Braves this spring.

The 26-year-old fourth-year pro took a well-chronicled sabbatical from the game after high school and was selected by the Braves out of Texas-Permian Basin in the 23rd round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

Gattis reached Double-A Mississippi last May, belting nine homers in 49 games, and put up big power numbers again in the Venezuelan winter league.

"He keeps impressing," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's a throwback kind of player. No batting gloves. No wrist bands. He just puts together quality at-bats.

"He got a 3-0 pitch there and he didn't miss it."

The Braves open the regular season on Monday at Turner Field against the Phillies, with Tim Hudson facing Philadelphia lefty Cole Hamels.

Power is expected to be the Braves' calling card this season. They led all National League clubs with 49 home runs in Spring Training.

"It's definitely there," Gattis said. "We'll see. There is crazy potential for power in this lineup."

Atlanta put up a five-spot in the first inning against left-hander Sean Gilmartin, who is slated to start the year at Triple-A Gwinnett. Andrelton Simmons led off with a double down the left-field line, and Jason Heyward followed with a ground-rule double to center.

Freddie Freeman singled between a pair of outs before Uggla launched his homer into the crowd on the left-field berm. Johnson followed with a home run to the same spot.

Johnson, who battled Juan Francisco for the third-base job and hit .361 this spring, also had an RBI single in a two-run third inning. Uggla added a second hit in the fifth, contributing to the Braves' total of 12.

"You're just trying to get as consistent as possible going into the season," said Uggla, who batted .200 with two homers this spring. "You want to peak going into the season. ... A game like this lets you know how talented this club can be."

Gilmartin pitched 3 2/3 innings and was charged with seven runs. Minor yielded singles to the first two batters of the game, then retired 11 straight before departing after four innings.

"The first two hits were OK pitches," said Minor, who had an uneven spring. "I pitched a lot better today. It was good to get a good start in. I felt like my timing was better today. The mechanical stuff was better."

Minor, penciled in as the Braves' No. 4 starter, made six spring starts, going 2-1 with a 6.26 ERA. He struck out 18 and walked 14 in 23 innings. "He settled in today and threw really well," Gonzalez said.

Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta's closer, worked in and out of trouble in the fifth, striking out the side but also giving up a double to Christian Bethancourt, a walk and a single. Eric O'Flaherty, Jordan Walden, Luis Avilan and Anthony Varvaro all pitched clean innings.

"It's going to be an exciting team," Minor said. "We've got hitting, pitching, defense. We'll have a target on our backs, but the Braves always play with that."

Michael Christensen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.