Today I continue my tour across baseball, where I have been highlighting my fantasy baseball “sleeper” picks in both hitting and pitching. After a stop in Phoenix on Monday, I now find myself in the Peach State, home of the Atlanta Braves.
If the Braves are intent on retaining their NL East Division crown, they’ll need the unheralded Evan Gattis to come up big, making the hulking backstop my fantasy baseball sleeper pick from the ATL:
Evan Gattis, C/OF (current ADP: #144):
The story of Evan Gattis is one of legends. The tale of a former high school star, turned drug addict, turned janitor, turned Atlanta Braves phenom. You just can’t make that stuff up. Gattis’ journey is a testament to how hard someone will work for true love of the game.
If you weren’t familiar with Evan Gattis last season, you most surely are now.
The now 27-year-old slugger belted 21 HR and drove in 65 RBI in his first major league season, including a torrid month of September in which he hit six homers and plated 18 runs — undoubtedly helping many fantasy owners win their league’s title.
After a full year to get acquainted to the pros, “The Janitor”, as he is known, enters year two as somewhat of a household name, yet he’s still being slept on in drafts. His current ADP has him at #144 on FantasyPros.com, behind such players as Starlin Castro, Casey Janssen and Steve Cishek.
Yes, you should almost always avoid taking catchers higher in your drafts, but the caveat with Gattis is that he also qualifies at the OF position — thanks in part to him starting 47 games in left field last year. He also played four games at 1B, a position he could play more of this season when the Braves matchup vs. American League teams in Interleague games.
Gattis also figures to be a huge part of a potent Atlanta lineup. His power production last year was incredible considering he logged just 354 AB. If you extrapolated his 2013 numbers over 600 AB, he would’ve finished with 35 HR and 110 RBI. Gattis has tremendous power and beat writer David O’Brien is reporting that Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez plans to have him bat cleanup for the team this season:
#Braves Fredi G still leaning toward Heyward in leadoff spot, and Gattis batting cleanup behind Freeman
— David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) February 17, 2014
Situated behind Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman would give Gattis unlimited RBI potential, not to mention a chance to get very regular playing time if he succeeds in that role early on.
By drafting Evan Gattis you’ll sacrifice a little bit of average, as well as a lot of speed for an OF-eligible player, but the extreme upside he possesses is worth it, especially if you’re considering taking him as your team’s first catcher.
2014 Projections: .261/.310/.489, 27 HR, 86 RBI, 72 R, 1 SB
» Remember to keep checking back every day as I cover all 30 teams (alphabetically) leading up till Opening Day. In case you’ve missed reading about any of the other sleepers I’ve covered so far, you can find them right here: