M-Braves Season Ends/Bethancourt Called Up

Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Mississipi Braves’ season has ended at the hands of the Mobile Bay Bears, losing 3 out of their four games, sending their opponent to the Southern League Finals this week.  But one of their players gets a consolation prize:  an all-expenses paid trip to Miami to join the Atlanta Braves:  Christian Bethancourt has been recalled by the Braves, and he’s now in the majors for the balance of the season.

On Friday, Mississippi defeated Mobile by a 4-3 socre with Iam Thomas pitching into the 6th innings – lots of base runners, but no runs yielded.  In fact, Mobile was held to nothing at all – until Ryne Harper gave up 3 runs in the bottom of the ninth (Nick Evans of Mobile:  2-run homer with 2 out) to make the contest uncomfortably interesting.

On Saturday, the two teams went to Pearl to give the M-Braves a home game in the series, but while Mississippi scored more runs (6) than in an other game in the series, they also stranded a bunch more (9).  Ultimately, they fell 7-6 thanks, once again, to late runs allowed.  Gus Schlosser went 7 innings, yielding 3 earned.  Pat Egan took a blown save and the loss, though the Braves’ fielding was involved:  2 errors (3B Edward Salcedo and RF Jose Martinez) cost the team 2 unearned runs.

Sunday’s finale in the 5-game series was just one of those days:  the Braves only managed 4 hits while Mobile pounded the baseballs early and often: after a first inning run, they got nine more in the third to blow it open, then five more later en route to a 15-0 blowout.  Aaron Northcraft was the chief victim on the mound (6 earned in 2.1 innings, though Gary Moran couldn’t even slow down the bleeding:  4 earned, only 1 out recorded.  Even Shae Simmons wasn’t exempt:  he gave up the other five runs, getting 4 outs only.  It was pretty ugly.

For the series, Christian Bethancourt hit very well:  5 for 13 (.385); Tommy La Stella hit .417 (5-12) with a double, Edward Salcedo went 6-13 (.461) with a homer and 3 RBI, though his errors were cashed in by Mobile.  SS Jaime Pedroza had a 4-11 (.364) series, and 1B Jaime Luna hit .333 in 9 trips.  Robby Hefflinger?  Two hits (.222) – but one was a solo homer.

So now we get to see Bethancourt first hand:  and the Braves now have four catchers in the same dugout – leading to this wag’s comment:

Faux Frank Wren@fauxfrankwren 2h  We are one catcher away from each member of our starting rotation having their own personal catcher.

Bethancourt peaked around .292 this year – in the league’s top ten in batting – before fading to a .277 in the last couple of weeks.  Clearly he supplied some of the attack in the playoffs, so he comes to Miami fairly hot.  He posted a minor league career high 12 homers this year with another career high 21 doubles – the homer count being more than double any season’s previous output.  It’ll be interesting to see how he fares:  I do expect him to get at least a couple of starts per week over the last 20 games.  He’s technically eligible for the post-season, though that won’t happen unless some other wheels fall off the Braves’ playoff bus… though we’ve seen worse things happen this strange year.

Nonetheless – from someone who was genuinely hoping he’d be at least promoted to AAA for the last six weeks or so:  congratulations to the newest Brave!

Topics: Atlanta Braves, Christian Bethancourt, Mississippi Braves

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  • cheadrick

    Well, as someone who’s written that Bethancourt should be our every day catcher next year, I applaud the decision, however odd it might be at this point. What I hope is that Gattis continues to play left, because I’ve opined that my gut tells me Gattis could get hot (he has), and that Fredi at least tries out a McCann/Bethancourt platoon a touch. Laird? I got no issues with Laird, but if Bethancourt can bring some “pop”, then we could see Christian get more than just a couple starts. It’s more likely they just want the insurance, and want to start now gauging Bethancourt’s near future.

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

      As you mention Laird, I’m really wondering if he even makes the post-season 25-man roster. He’s healthy, and can hit, so he might – which also allows more bench flexibility. But if others (Reed, Heyward, et al) get healthy, then he could be dropped.

      • cheadrick

        That is certainly a possibility. I think the Braves consider Laird dead weight next year, even if BMac is gone. I think they already plan to have a Gattis/Bethancourt platoon, although I’ve argued against that order. It will be very interesting to see what they do. I don’t really expect JHey to contribute much even if he’s back in time for Oct. though, and Reed seems to really be healing from the Achilles slowly. I hope October is interesting, and not another in a series of long disappointments.

        • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

          Heyward: I had been trying to find more info about the fractures – my prior calendar piece about him was based on the assumption that the insertion of plates into his jaw meant a more serious break – and therefore more time out. So I was shocked to hear that he could be released to get some game action (at least hitting) even before the reg. season ended.

          Bethancourt for 2014: Clearly, his glove is #1, so his playing time will be limited only to the extent that his hitting is working. If he has a bad spring, then we could start w/Laird-Gattis. By May-June, he’ll likely be in the majors to stay – unless already there thanks to a good spring. Laird will be thanked for his contributions, and a trade (with his input) will be worked out. But I do think we’re looking at CB eventually getting 3 of 5 starts at least by mid-season.

          • cheadrick

            Agreed that is probably what happens, although I don’t think it’s necessarily the right move, as I explained in my reply above to Joseph.

        • Joseph Fain

          I think it would very much go against the Braves history for them to start the season with a Gattis / Bethancourt tandem. They have always shown a preference for carrying at least one veteran catcher (often a light hitting one). I think this approach makes a lot of sense given the youth of the pitching staff and that Laird is a) under contract, and b) not a terrible hitter. Bethancourt / Laird would be my choice with Gattis sent to AAA to work on his defense with an eye to becoming the backup to Bethancourt in 2015.

          • cheadrick

            I can live with that, provided the tandem is Bethancourt #1, and Laird #2. That keeps the veteran presence if Christian struggles with handling pitchers, etc., and allows Gattis, as you said, to get more work, which I think he clearly needs defensively at least. I don’t believe that happens though. I think the Braves may just be enamored enough of Gattis to try and work with him as much as possible in the off season, and it will be a Laird/Gattis platoon next year. While I disagree with that move, I agree with Alan that it might be a touch longer before we see CB up every day. My point is that I think CB has figured some things out with the bat. He’s hitting for more power like he’s never done before, for a long enough time period that I don’t think it’s a fluke, and his arm is without question. The Braves have to figure out at some point that they have to step outside of doing things the way they’ve always been done, and holding on to tradition even when it’s not working.

          • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

            Definitely is their history. This will be the singular most interesting decision (involving position players) between now and next April. Point is well-taken, though I gotta think that if Gattis hit his way onto the roster this year, he’s likely not going away.

          • Joseph Fain

            But if we didn’t have enough confidence in him as a backup this year to jettison Laird (when we had an experienced starter in McCann), then I don’t see them being willing to do that next season with a rookie starter like Bethancourt. I just don’t think Gattis has done anything to dispel the notion that he is a bit raw defensively.

          • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

            Not disagreeing w/that at all, but may be a different situation next year: McCann has been somewhat injury prone; Gattis was still an unknown quantity – hence 3 catchers. Next year, not sure the same calculus would exist – seems to be less need for 3. Regardless of our collective armchair thinking, sounds like the team is at least satisfied Gattis can do a capable job, though he wouldn’t be the #1.

  • fireboss

    While I am hesitant to credit the Braves current management with forward thinking, the one thing that two of our potential playoff opponents have that is hard for use to counter is speed. Bethancourt has the quickest release and best arm in the system and while that might not stop Bill Hamiton from running it might cut down his success rate and stop Puig/Crawford from running rampant on McCann and Laird. Add to that McCann’s recent funk at the plate -.219/.275/.313 in the last 4 weeks – I understand the call up. I’m fairly certain that this performance was the deciding factor in the McCann departure.

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

      Something I want to see: Teheran’s pickoff move vs. Hamilton with Bethancourt behind the dish.

  • Ryan

    Why is no one talking about La Stella!? He’s a perfect fit to replace Uggla! I’ll take a guy that can absolutely hit any day of the week over a guy that swings for the fences and bats 180.

    • fireboss

      He has been talked about a lot here, Alan wrote about him a couple of weeks ago, I’ve not seen him play but I’ve read there are concerns about his defense. I suspect he’ll get a look next spring but throwing him into the chase now is likely more pressure than they want to put on the young man. It would require roster moves as well because he’s not on the 40man yet and GMs are reluctant to do that for some reason. They have 2 possible 40 man moves they could make without a DFA – Pastornicky to the 60 day and Gearrin to the 60 day DL backdated to august 1st. Other than that they would have to remove someone. They have to make some moves this off season to protect players from the rule 5 draft – Alan wrote on that a month or so ago – and that complicates things too. Nothing is easy it seems

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