Must-click link: Meet Evan Gattis, who has lived a hell of a life so far

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The Braves have a catching prospect named Evan Gattis. He turned heads by hitting .322/.386/.601 and socking 22 homers in a mere 377 plate appearances in the Sally League last year at the age of 24.

Your first thought may be “well, yeah, but 24 is pretty old for the Sally League.”  That’s true. Which means that you can’t necessarily say that Gattis is some uber-prospect.

But it is interesting to hear why, at 24, he was only in the Sally League.  Turns out he has had one hell of a journey in his life these past several years, and today Dave O’Brien of the AJC has his story:

Eight years ago, James Evan Gattis was a burly power hitter coming out of high school in Forney, Texas. He signed with Texas A&M, but never made it to College Station.

Instead he went to drug rehab for 30 days. Then a halfway house for three months. After a brief baseball career at an Oklahoma junior college, he dropped out and tried to tune in or turn on to something, anything that might give him some clarity.

His life began to resemble a Jack Kerouac novel mixed with new age spiritualism wherever he could find it. He traveled the western United States, stopping for a few months here and there, working jobs ranging from ski-lift operator to janitor.

It’s a great read, and he seems like a neat guy.

Though really, he reminds me less of Kerouac — or whatever we’ve come to think of as that which Kerouac represented — and more of James Ellroy.  Someone who, unlike most other people who spend time in the wilderness of drugs and aimlessness, actually find a way out and succeed in the world they should have entered years before.

Such a thing is a romantic notion, but man is it rare.  Once lives are derailed, they tend to say that way.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.