Christian Bethancourt was supposed to be the future behind the plate for the Atlanta Braves. But at present he kinda stinks. As such, the Braves just optioned him to Triple-A.
The at-one-time highly thought-of catcher hasn’t hit at all, posting a line of .208/.231/.297. Which would even be difficult to carry if he was a modern day Johnny Bench, defensively speaking. Which he has decidedly not been. Yesterday he allowed a run to score on a passed ball. His fifth passed ball in 27 games this year. He had six in 31 games last year. Former Braves catcher Evan Gattis had five passed balls in 93 games last season, and he’s considered to be a disaster defensively. A.J. Pierzynski, meanwhile, has two in 36 games.
Add in the fact that there is no suggestion that Bethancourt is good at handling pitchers or framing — he often looks crossed-up — and all you’re left with at the moment is a guy with a great arm behind the dish — he does throw out baserunners at a better-than-average pace — and a lot of unfulfilled promise. He needs some seasoning and he needs it on a stage smaller than the big leagues.
Francys Romero reports that, according to his sources, Dodgers pitcher David Price will pay $1,000 out of his own money to each Dodgers minor leaguer who is not on the 40-man roster during the month of June.
That’s a pretty amazing gesture from Price. It’s also extraordinarily telling that such a gesture is even necessary.
Under a March agreement with Major League Baseball, minor leaguers have been receiving financial assistance that is set to expire at the end of May. Baseball America reported earlier this week that the Dodgers will continue to pay their minor leaguers $400 per week past May 31, but it is unclear how long such payments would go. Even if one were to assume that the payments will continue throughout the month of June, however, it’s worth noting that $400 a week is not a substantial amount of money for players to live on, on which to support families, and on which to train and remain ready to play baseball if and when they are asked to return.
Price’s generosity should be lauded here, but this should not be considered a feel-good story overall. Major League Baseball, which has always woefully underpaid its minor leaguers has left them in a vulnerable position once again.