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Series Against Braves Provides Rookie Of The Year Battle

Atlanta Braves' Evan Gattis is putting on a campaign for top rookie honors

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Evan Gattis #24 of the Atlanta Braves rounds the bases after hitting an eighth inning pinch hit home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field on May 18, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.

    The Atlanta Braves head to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers for a three-game series starting on Thursday. An intriguing subplot to this series is that both teams have a strong case for Rookie of the Year on their rosters.

    The success the Dodgers have gotten from rookies cannot be emphasized enough with impressive performances from Hyun-Jin Ryu, Scott Van Slyke, Tim Federowicz and most recently Yasiel Puig.

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    The Braves have a breakout star of their own in rookie catcher, left-fielder, and first baseman, Evan Gattis. Gattis has been in the Braves organization since getting picked in the 23rd round of the 2010 draft.

    After tearing up the minor leagues hitting .308/.374/.546 with 44 home runs and 167 RBIs in three seasons he received a Spring Training invite from the Braves in 2013. He soon found himself on the big league roster to start the season since catcher, Brian McCann was on the DL.

    Gattis debuted on April 3rd, and got his first major league hit in his second at bat. It was a home run off of Roy Halladay.

    As of Thursday, he has 11 home runs and 32 RBIs, which leads 2013 rookies. His 1.9 WAR is tied for tops among rookies.

    The Braves have been using Gattis in a utility role to fill lineup holes created by injuries. He has played 24 games at catcher, 10 games in left field and three at first base.

    Perhaps the most intriguing part of Gattis is his backstory. He was supposed to play college ball at Texas A&M University on a scholarship but dropped out of school after abusing marijuana and alcohol, and spent time in a rehab clinic.

    Over the next four years he wandered the Midwest, spending time in Texas, Colorado and New Mexico. He also kept several odd jobs, working as valet driver, as a ski-lift operator and at a pizza parlor.

    Gattis returned to baseball after four years, and despite his absence he excelled in his first season playing at University of Texas of the Permian Basin. The next year he was drafted by Atlanta.

    During the last series against the Braves, Gattis only had two at bats, both as a pinch hitter. He went 1-2 with a two-RBI home run.

    The last time the Dodgers faced Atlanta things did not go well as they were swept in three games. The Dodgers are 8-8 since the series in Atlanta, but have won 9 of their last 13 home games.