The time has come, Atlanta Braves fans — we have finally gotten to see a prospect that we have been getting excited about for a really long time.
The Braves signed him when he was just 16 years old out of Panama and have managed to keep him in the organization for quite a long time. Being signed so young was a good thing for Christian Bethancourt, because it allowed the Braves to get him through the minor leagues slowly. The main reason was to develop his bat, because everyone should know that he is an absolute wizard behind the plate.
Watching him play is a totally different experience than just seeing highlights or hearing about him. Regardless of what the sabermetricians say (-1 in defensive runs saved), when he gets his innings in, he will no doubt be compared to some of the great catchers in the game of baseball.
Where the Braves worry about Bethancourt is with his bat. It’s not that he has “struggled” necessarily at the plate as he has grown, but the team was hoping that he could develop a little more power, as well as more plate discipline. The truth is that he doesn’t strike out a ton, but he rarely walks, totaling 16 in 388 plate appearances in 2013.
While the Braves have been patient with Bethancourt, they have to remember what they have in the young player as the trade deadline looms. They have been waiting on him going on seven years now, and have quite possibly developed one of the best young defensive catchers in the major leagues. The cost of a big-time trade would definitely cost the team at least one, if not two prospects from the organization.
Bethancourt doesn’t need to be one of those guys. The value that he brings to the table will only grow as he ages, and hopefully the team will lock him up long-term.
If the Braves can avoid placing him in trade talks, the team could have a better lineup when it comes to game day. With Evan Gattis possibly in left field (which some think is a horrible idea) and Bethancourt behind the plate, there isn’t a .200 hitter leading off, and maybe the team can make some progress toward winning division titles long into the future.