Just months ago, it looked like Christian Bethancourt would be the starting catcher for the Atlanta Braves to begin the 2014 season with Brian McCann most likely departing in free agency. However, Evan Gattis has crushed just about everything this season for the Braves, ranking second on the team in home runs (14) and RBI (37) and now has the inside track at becoming the starting catcher in 2014.
All is not lost for the No. 2 prospect in the Braves organization according to MLB.com, who can now turn his attention to developing as a more complete catcher.
The 21-year-old Panamanian already possesses the defensive tools to play in the big leagues, but lacks the offensive game to compliment it.
Bethancourt has made some strides at the plate this season playing for Double-A Mississippi in the Southern League. He is hitting .263 with four home runs in 45 games with the team. He has shown improvements in most offensive categories in his second year playing in Double-A ball. His .263 average is 20 points higher than what it was at the conclusion of 2012 and he has also put together a higher OBP (.284), slugging (.389) and OPS (.673).
The most significant jump he’s made at the plate this season has been showing more pop. His slugging is more than 100 points higher this season than it was to finish last season, thanks to hitting twice as many doubles (10) and home runs (four) in 26 less games.
The area that Bethancourt still needs to make significant strides is his plate discipline. He’s walked just five times in 175 at-bats. He must learn the strike zone better in order to improve that area of his game.
Overall, the Braves should be pleased with some signs of progress from the young catcher at the plate. He is starting to demonstrate more pop at the plate on a consistent basis. He still has to become much more disciplined at the plate in order to become a major league hitter, but that’s an area that many young hitters struggle with.
Bethancourt has time to figure that out. He is just 21 years old, and now the Braves have the luxury of not having to rush him into the major leagues in 2014. The young catcher still has a bright future.