CHRISTIAN BETHANCOURT, CATCHER
|Born: September 2, 1991
Signed: Int’l Free Agent, 2008 (Braves)
How Acquired: Minor League Free Agent
Agent: Scott Boras
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Bethancourt was considered the top catching prospect on the international market when he signed with Atlanta. He spent many years on various Baseball America draft lists, ranking either second or third in the Braves’ system three times. He’s an athletic catcher with a strong arm who’s typically thrown out 30-45% of base stealers. He’s been criticized, though, for his work ethic and his approach in blocking pitches. At the plate, he’s shown some ability at times, including modest power, but he’s been undone by his unwillingess to take pitches. He spent much or all of 2014-16 in the majors without making progress with the bat. San Diego ultimately tried him on the mound, which didn’t work out, and he played one partial season in Korea. The Pirates signed him to a minor league deal a month into the 2021 season.
Bethancourt had a solid debut in the DSL, including decent patience at the plate.
The Braves sent Bethancourt to the GCL and promoted him for a couple of weeks in the Appalachian League. He hit well at both stops, including decent patience still and good power.
In low A, Bethancourt’s problems with plate discipline started to surface. He had an extremely low walk rate and his power mostly disappeared with the walks.
Atlanta sent Bethancourt back to low A and his hitting picked up a great deal, although his walk rate didn’t. After a June promotion to high A, his power dropped off.
Bethancourt struggled in AA, with almost no power or walks. The Braves added him to the 40-man roster after the season.
Bethancourt repeated another level and, again, hit much better without showing any more patience. He got a quick cameo in the majors at the end of the season.
The Braves sent Bethancourt to AAA to open the season and called him up in June. He spent several weeks in the majors, went back to AAA, then got a September callup. He hit respectably in AAA and just held his own in the majors, with the usual lack of patience.
This time Bethancourt opened the season in the majors, splitting the catching duties with A.J. Pierzynski. He struggled badly at the plate and went to AAA in mid-June, then returned in August. After the season, Atlanta traded Bethancourt to San Diego.
MLB: 0-0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2.40 WHIP, 1.2 IP, 16.2 BB/9, 5.4 K/9
Bethancourt spent the season with the Padres as the backup catcher to Derek Norris. He also played a dozen games in the outfield and took the mound twice. He continued to struggle at the plate, apart from showing a little power.
AAA: 3-2-0, 8.21 ERA, 1.99 WHIP, 41.2 IP, 7.1 BB/9, 5.0 K/9
The Padres decided to try Bethancourt on the mound. He pitched in four games in April, which didn’t go well. At the end of the month San Diego outrighted him to AAA and he pitched there the rest of the year. He struggled badly. After the season Bethancourt became a free agent and signed a minor league deal with the Brewers.
Bethancourt spent the season in AAA. He mostly caught, but also played eight games at first. He put up good numbers at the plate, but it was Colorado Springs in the Pacific Coast League. He became a free agent after the season and signed to play in Korea.
Bethancourt played with the NC Dinos until July, when he was released. He hit passably while splitting his time between firstbase, right field and catcher, mainly the first two. In early 2020, he signed a minor league deal with the Phillies.
Bethancourt did not play during the pandemic season.
After the 2020 season, Bethancourt re-signed on a minor league deal with the Phillies, but they released him at the end of spring training. The Pirates signed him at the beginning of May. He went to Indianapolis where, despite his history as a glove-only catcher, he caught only 28 games. He also played 28 games at first, some in right, and some as DH. He even pitched twice. At the plate, Bethancourt had a very good season; at times he was about the only player in the Indy lineup who was hitting at all. While catching, he threw out 39% of base stealers. Despite his good season, though, when Jacob Stallings went on the concussion list at the end of the season, the Pirates called up Taylor Davis instead of Bethancourt.
Bethancourt will become a free agent again after the season and probably move on. It looks like he can still play just fine.
|2021: Minor league salary
|Signing Bonus: $600,000
MiLB Debut: 2008
MLB Debut: 9/29/2013
MiLB FA Eligible: 2021
MLB FA Eligible: 2025
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 11/19/2012 (since removed)
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2013, 2014, 2015)
MLB Service Time: 2.038
|March 12, 2008: Signed by the Atlanta Braves as an international free agent.
November 19, 2012: Contract purchased by the Atlanta Braves.
December 10, 2015: Traded by the Atlanta Braves to the San Diego Padres for Casey Kelly and Ricardo Rodriguez.
April 25, 2017: Outrighted to AAA by the San Diego Padres.
November 6, 2017: Became a free agent.
January 8, 2018: Signed by the Milwaukee Brewers as a minor league free agent.
November 2, 2018: Became a free agent.
January 7, 2020: Signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as a minor league free agent.
November 2, 2020: Became a free agent.
January 4, 2021: Signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as a minor league free agent.
March 28, 2021: Released by the Philadelphia Phillies.
May 3, 2021: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.