Before I start this I have to apologize to all of you. Since starting the top ten Braves prospects series I had been publishing the next prospect every Wednesday. Last week however, I didn’t get around to writing up Bethancourt’s. I would like to blame it on our server issues but that would just be lazy. I know it’s a week late but here we go.
By now you should know about Christian Bethancourt. If you don’t here is the basic rundown of what he brings to the table right now. He is arguably the best defensive catcher in all of minor league baseball right now. He has an absolute canon of an arm and dares runners to take second base. His blocking is solid but needs some work. Offense has always been his biggest question mark, but he is starting to make that worry go away with his past year of work and his Arizona Fall League performance.
In A ball this past year he had a slash of .303/.323/.430. He definitely needs to work on his plate discipline as his walk rates have steadily gone downhill since hitting low A ball. Last year he reached a horrendous 1.7% walk rate. To give you a better image of how truly bad that is you need the actual numbers.
In 175 at bats Bethancourt only managed 3 walks. That is going to have to change. Hopefully that will be his focus offensively this year because if he can bring it up to around 7% he will see a huge difference in his OBP and therefor his offensive value.
Bethancourt is still young, so I wouldn’t be too worried about his power numbers yet. During the next few years as he adds some weight and experience the power numbers should go up. If you didn’t know, power is the last thing a hitter develops and it typically develops fully around a players mid twenties. This isn’t a golden rule or anything it is just an estimate.
Other than his plate discipline there is not much you should worry about with Christian. He is showing improvements with his hitting and he could play behind the plate for Atlanta tonight. I mentioned in my early scouting report of him that Bethancourt also brings some surprisingly good speed from behind the plate.
I don’t know how useful this will actual as far as stolen bases since he is a catcher, but it should help him turn a lot more singles into doubles than your average backstop.
With the McCann situation now looming before us Bethancourt is the one bright spot. Like some of you have said we would be able to survive without Brian on the team (please no) and Christian has a great chance to be an above average catcher in the bigs. I would think his ETA is late 2013 or 2014.
In A Perfect World- Bethancourt steadily progresses through the minors and learns to take some walks along the way. The great AFL showing he had proves to be no fluke and he becomes a solid MLB hitter as well as the best defensive catcher in the game.
According To The Mayans- Christian never builds on his 2011 season and becomes a liability with the bat. His great defense allows him to be a solid bench option for some team but nothing more.