Braves trade Evan Gattis to the Astros

The Braves pulled the trigger on another major trade.

The Atlanta Braves continued their organization overhaul Wednesday night with a trade sending catcher Evan Gattis and minor league reliever James Hoyt to the Houston Astros for three minor league players.

The Braves receive two pitching prospects – Michael Foltynewicz and Andrew Thurman, along with third base prospect Rio Ruiz.

The Braves had Gattis penciled in as the left fielder, but the preference all along was to try and take advantage of his value. Gattis has four years of control before he becomes a free agent. The Astros will likely have Gattis be a full-time designated hitter, with an occasional appearance behind the plate or in left field.

Atlanta will have to look for a left fielder. They will have newly signed outfielders Dian Toscano and Zolio Almonte in camp, but they are not considered to be ready to start at the big league level. The Braves will likely look at the free agent market for a potential starter.

Gattis has been a great story for the last two years. He was a 23rd round pick in the 2010 draft out of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Gattis quickly rose up the minor league ladder displaying tremendous power. He made the Atlanta opening day roster in 2013 and hit 21 home runs while playing behind the plate, at first base and in left field.

After the departure of Brian McCann via free agency, Gattis became the everyday catcher last season. Gattis hit .263 with 22 home runs and 52 RBI in 369 at bats. He was limited to only 93 at catcher, with 89 starts.

Holt was a free agent signed out of the Mexican League in 2012. The 28-year-old right-handed reliever split last season between Mississippi and Gwinnett last season. He had a 3.17 ERA in 52 games with 77 strikeouts in 59.2 innings.

Foltynewicz, a 23-year-old right-hander who stands 6-4 and weighs 220 pounds, was a first round pick in 2010 out of Minooka High School in Illinois. He spent the last two months of last season in the big leagues with the Astros. Foltynewicz pitched in 16 games and had a 5.30 ERA. For Triple-A Oklahoma City, Foltynewicz pitched in 21 games (18 starts) and had a 5.08 ERA with 102 strikeouts in 102.2 innings pitched.

Thurman is a 23-year-old right-hander who is 6-3, 225. He was a second round pick in 2013 out of UC-Irvine. Last season, Thurman pitched for Quad Cities in the Midwest League (Low-A). He pitched in 26 games (20 starts) and had a 7-9 record with a 5.38 ERA. He allowed 122 hits in 115.1 innings, with 40 walks and 107 strikeouts.

Ruiz will turn 21 in May. He’s 6-2 and 215 pounds and is a left-handed hitter. Ruiz was taken in the fourth round of the 2012 draft out of Bishop Amat Memorial High School in La Puente, California. Last season in High-A at Lancaster he hit .293 with a .387 on base percentage, 11 home runs and 77 RBI.

Before the trade, ranked Foltynewicz as the Astros’ fourth-best prospect and Ruiz was rated ninth. Baseball America recently ranked Foltynewicz as the third-best prospect and had Ruiz ranked eighth. BA also labeled Ruiz as having the best strike-zone discipline in the Houston farm system, while Foltynewicz had the best fastball in the Astros organization.

Prior to the 2014 season, Baseball America had Foltynewicz ranked fourth, Ruiz ranked 11th and Thurman ranked 15th.

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