Pittsburgh Pirates News: Team Signs Christian Bethancourt To Minor League Deal


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

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed former Atlanta Braves top prospect, backstop Christian Bethancourt, to a minor league deal. This ensures the team has a pretty solid #3 catching option. Regular catcher Jacob Stallings took a 97 MPH heater from Carlos Martinez off the side of his face during Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Although Stallings remained in the game, this is likely just a depth move to ensure the team has a better answer than Joe Hudson in the event Stallings or Michael Perez ever have to serve an IL stint.

It’s been quite a wild ride for Bethancourt’s career. Signed out of Panama in 2008 by the Atlanta Braves, Bethancourt became a consensus top 100 prospect in the early-to-mid 2010’s. He ranked as high as the 69th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America at the start of 2014, and consistently ranked as one of the 10 best catching prospects by MLB Pipeline from 2012 to 2015.

Bethancourt was best known for his outstanding defensive work. In 2014, he had a 75 fielding grade by MLB Pipeline with a 70 grade arm, making him not just one of the best defensive catching prospects, but one of the best defenders among all prospects. However, Bethancourt’s bat never developed. Throughout his time in the MLB, Bethancourt has hit just .222/.252/.316 with a .248 wOBA and 52 wRC+ through 489 trips to the plate.

After failing to claim a regular role with the Braves, he was sent to the San Diego Padres in the 2015-2016 off season where he started out as their back-up catcher, but also saw some time in the corner outfield. Interestingly, the Padres experimented with him as a two-way player after flashing an upper-90’s heater in a few blowout games. He’s pitched a total of 5.1 innings in the MLB between 2016 and 2017, but has allowed 6 earned runs while walking 11 batters to oppose 3 strikeouts. They sent him to the minors in 2017, but struggled at Triple-A, giving up 38 earned runs in 41.2 innings.

This two-was concept was essentially scrapped by his next team, the Milwaukee Brewers. However, he never appeared in a game with them, and hasn’t seen the majors since 2017. Since his departure from the Brew Crew after the 2018 season, Bethancourt went overseas to Korea where he played 53 games, albeit with a .327 wOBA and 95 wRC+. Since the beginning of 2020, he’s spent his time with the Philadelphia Phillies, but has never gotten the call back to the show.

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Christian Bethancourt isn’t a bad option for the team to pick up as a third-string catcher. He’s always been known for his defensive ability behind the dish. He’ll be sent to Triple-A to start the season, but is likely the first person called up if something were to happen to either Stallings or Perez.