Christian Bethancourt Ready to Start Padres Career

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The Padres seem to have a plethora of catchers in Spring Training. They have both catchers from last season in Derek Norris and Austin Hedges – and added catcher Christian Bethancourt from the Atlanta Braves this off-season. How will that work out this season?

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Not too long ago, Bethancourt was considered one of if not THE top catching prospect in baseball. That is why the Braves were okay with letting perennial All Star Brian McCann go and give Bethancourt the starting catchers job to lose. Then he did lose the job to El Oso Blanco Evan Gattis. All that to say you would think for a team to essentially give up on their prospect he would have had a couple years of failing. Bethancourt is still just 24 years old.

Now he had off-season surgery to fix up his left knee and feels better than ever as he reported to camp for the Padres. “The pain was there the whole time, but I’m not going to blame it on that” he said discussing his disappointing seasons with the Braves to start his career.

Despite just a career .219 average with the Braves, Padres manager Andy Green is excited to see if Bethancourt can reach that vaunted potential with the Padres. “This guy has a ton of raw ability, He’s 24 years old with a ton of upside and ton of work ahead of him, and we’re going to help him embrace that work and be part of this team.”

The biggest problem with a rebound will be how he is played in 2016 and how much he will play. When he was acquired that led to speculation that he, Austin Hedges, or Derek Norris would be traded. That has not yet happened but it certainly can’t be ruled out that it will not before the season starts. Injuries happen all the time in Spring Training and any one of these three catchers could be valuable to teams. Norris might be the most marketable and ready to make an impact. For a Padres team that will not win in 2016 – it seems smarter to let Hedges and Bethancourt battle it out in the long term and net a bigger return for Norris.

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All those questions can come later though. For now, Bethancourt is looking forward to 2016 and proving that he too belongs in the Major Leagues on a full-time basis: “Right now, the only thing on my mind is to establish myself in the big leagues and hopefully have a long career with the Padres, help them win a lot of games and, of course, get to the World Series.”

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