baseball

Phillies Add Catching Depth in Former Braves Top Prospect Christian Bethancourt

Andy Hayt

 

The Phillies added catching depth with a slight chance for upside by reportedly agreeing to a minor-league deal with Christian Bethancourt.

Bethancourt, now 28, was one of the Braves' top prospects five years ago, ranked 69th league-wide by Baseball America entering 2014. 

Athleticism and arm strength have always been Bethancourt's calling cards, though two of the reasons he lost his job as the Braves' starting catcher in 2015 were receiving and game-calling. He was 23 then.

The Braves traded Bethancourt to the Padres in December 2015 for Casey Kelly, a former first-round pitcher. The change-of-scenery deal didn't really work out for either side. 

Bethancourt just hasn't hit. He's a career .222/.252/.316 hitter in the majors in 489 plate appearances. He had a weak offensive season in 2019 in Korea, which is not a promising sign given Korea's resemblance to the lower levels of the minor leagues.

He does offer defensive versatility as a potential corner outfielder, and that could suit him well with MLB going to 26-man rosters in 2020.

But Bethancourt will obviously have to hit in spring training to make this team.

Bethancourt is the fifth player the Phillies have brought aboard on a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training, joining Josh Harrison, Phil Gosselin, Matt Szczur and Mikie Mahtook.

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