Recently, I heard a friend say, “It’s hard to root for Christian Bethancourt“. I get it. The young catcher, a top prospect in the Atlanta organization playing for AA Mississippi, has showed good prowess at the plate with the glove, but has struggled at the plate with the bat. Bethancourt has a good arm, and it was his defensive ability that helped get him chosen to play in this year’s Future Game. It’s his second time to be chosen, and while he started last year’s game, he was unable to start Sunday’s game.
The young 21 year old catcher was slapped hard on the wrist off a foul ball while catching Thursday evening, sat out the game on Friday, but he indicated he felt good enough to play in Sunday’s Futures Game. While he didn’t start, he did enter the game in the 6th inning and caught for the World Team, who lost 4-2 to the U.S. Team. Bethancourt’s struggles with the bat continue though, as he went 0 for 1 in the game. Bethancourt is flying out to Jacksonville today sometime to play in the Southern League All-Star game on Tuesday. When asked about getting to play with the sore wrist, Christian was short and to the point…
It feels great so I got to play today.
Many hoped the young catcher might be able to step up and take over as a backup catcher for Atlanta while Brian McCann was still out early in the season, but the offensive production for Bethancourt has just not been what the Braves had hoped, and instead Gerald Laird and Evan Gattis became a platooning set for the big club.
Bethancourt has been in the minors five years now, playing for Rome and Lynchburg in 2011, then moving to Double-AA Mississippi where he has played the last two seasons. He had much lower than expected production last year hitting on a line of just .243/.275/.291/.566, numbers not near good enough to move up to Gwinnett. He works hard though, and has improved his production this year. So far, in 55 games and 210 ABs, Bethancourt has hit on a line of .262/.292/.400/.692. That’s not a huge improvement, but an improvement.
The Braves still hope the young catching prospect will continue to improve, and sooner rather than later. There is a big question mark over Brian McCann and whether he will be with Atlanta next year, and with an aging backup catcher in Gerald Laird, and a rookie catcher in Evan Gattis, it is still hoped that Bethancourt will develop into the kind of player whose offensive skills match his defensive skills. Only time will tell.