Pittsburgh Pirates signal Christian Bethancourt on minor league deal

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed the former top 100 prospect Chrstian Bethancourt for a minor league deal.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed former Atlanta Braves top prospect, Backstop Christian Bethancourt, for a minor league deal. This ensures the team has a pretty solid # 3 catch option. Regular catcher Jacob Stallings took a 97 MPH heater off Carlos Martinez’s face during Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. While Stallings stayed in the game, this is probably just a deep step in making sure the team has a better response than Joe Hudson in case Stallings or Michael Perez ever have to do an IL stint.

It’s been a pretty wild ride for Bethancourt’s career. Bethancourt was deregistered from Panama by the Atlanta Braves in 2008 and became a top 100 consensus prospect in early to mid-2010. It was ranked the 69th best vantage point in all of Baseball America’s baseball at the start of 2014 and consistently one of the MLB Pipeline’s top ten chances to catch from 2012-2015.

Bethancourt was known for its excellent defense work. In 2014 he had a field strength of 75 from MLB Pipeline with an arm of 70 making him not only one of the best prospects for defensive catch but one of the best defenders of any prospect. Bethancourt’s bat, however, never evolved. During his time in the MLB, Bethancourt only hit .222 / .252 / .316 with a .248 WOBA and 52 wRC + through 489 trips.

After not claiming a regular role with the Braves, he was sent to the San Diego Padres in the 2015-2016 off-season, where he started as a substitute catcher but also saw corner field for some time. Interestingly enough, the Padres experimented with him as a two-way player after flashing a heater from the upper 90s in some blowout games. He has thrown a total of 5.1 innings in the MLB between 2016 and 2017 but allowed 6 earned runs while running 11 batters to oppose 3 strikeouts. They sent him to the miners in 2017 but fought at Triple-A, giving up 38 earned runs in 41.2 innings.

This two-what concept was essentially ditched by his next team, the Milwaukee Brewers. However, he never appeared in a game with them and has not seen the majors since 2017. Since leaving the Brew Crew after the 2018 season, Bethancourt went to Korea, where he played 53 games, albeit with a WOBA of 0.327 and 95 wRC +. He’s been with the Philadelphia Phillies since early 2020 but never received a call back for the show.

Christian Bethancourt isn’t a bad option for the team to come up with as catcher of the third string. He has always been known for his defense skills behind the court. He’s sent to Triple-A to start the season but is likely the first person to call if something happens to Stallings or Perez.

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