Braves pick Gattis-like slugging catcher in 20th round

ATLANTA -- The last time the Braves selected a power-hitting catcher out of Texas on Day 3 of the First-Year Player Draft, they got Evan Gattis, who leads all Major League catchers with 12 home runs this season.

Should lightning strike twice for Atlanta, the club's next late-round backstop basher could be Lubbock Christian University's Wigberto Nevarez, who was selected on Saturday afternoon in the 20th round with the 713th overall pick.

Like Gattis, the 6-foot-3, 230 pound Nevarez has plenty of size and possesses plenty of power, smacking 22 home runs in 339 career at-bats with Lubbock Christian and becoming their first player to ever homer four times in a game on March 28, 2013.

"Gattis is a really good player, no doubt about it," Lubbock Christian head coach Nathan Blackwood said. "I think Wigs has the potential to have more power than Gattis, but overall, they're very similar."

Blackwood also lauded Nevarez's defensive ability. In two seasons with Lubbock Christian, Nevarez threw out 37.9 (22 of 58) percent of would-be base stealers. Only three MLB catchers have higher percentages this season.

Nevarez's ability to work with the Lubbock Christian pitching staff also impressed Blackwood, who trusted Atlanta's 20th rounder with a lot of in-game responsibility.

"We don't always allow our catchers to call games, but we did Wigs just because he was so sharp in that area and had a good rapport with the staff," Blackwood said. "I know at the professional level they do a lot more of that, so he's going to be very valuable in that role with pitchers."

Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.