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Gattis named top rookie in first Major League month

After winding road to Majors, Braves catcher collects six homers, 16 RBIs in April

Braves catcher Evan Gattis added another line to his remarkable journey Thursday, when he was named the National League Rookie of the Month for April.

"I didn't really know there was one," said Gattis of the award. "It's definitely an honor."

Gattis, who got back into baseball three years ago and was left off the Braves' Minor League rosters two years ago, led all Major League rookies last month with six home runs, 16 RBIs, a .566 slugging percentage and 43 total bases while hitting .250. He also led all rookies with a team-high five game-winning RBIs in his first month in the Majors, helping push the Braves to a 17-9 record in April.

The 26-year-old catcher, picked by the Braves in the 23rd round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, ranked third among qualifying NL rookies in batting average, tied for second with nine runs scored and finished fourth in hits.

Gattis homered in his Major League debut on April 3, a 9-2 win for Atlanta over Philadelphia at Turner Field. He became the seventh player in Atlanta history to homer in his big league debut.

"My first home run was big for me, because it was [my first game]," he said. "That was cool. Reed [Johnson], when I came in, said, 'That will take the pressure off.' So that was good, just getting that out of the way. Having some success early has helped."

Gattis also homered in his first appearance as a pinch-hitter, crushing a tie-breaking blast over the left-field wall on April 18 to give the Braves an eighth-inning 6-4 lead over the Pirates that they wouldn't let up.

Gattis' backstory is well-documented at this point. He opted not to play baseball at Texas A&M after high school and battled depression, going to a rehab center before taking odd jobs as a janitor, cook, ski lift operator and housekeeper. He then worked his way back into the game and caught on with the Braves, and it doesn't appear he's going anywhere anytime soon.

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.
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