Sports from the Basement

The Curious Case of Christian Bethancourt

Christian Bethancourt must be one of the most versatile players in all of baseball.

Last season, we got a taste of what the San Diego Padres catcher could do on the mound. The right-hander appeared in two games and pitched 1 2/3 scoreless frames. However he struggled with his command and walked three. That’s fine considering he wasn’t a pitcher. There was still plenty to get excited about, though. The catcher hit the mid-90s with his fastball and paired it with a low-80s change.

He even used a 49-mph eephus once, as seen in the video below.

He certainly had potential, so the Padres gave him the chance to explore what he could do on the mound.

This winter, Bethancourt went to Panama to stretch out as a pitcher/utilityman extraordinaire in Winter Ball. Though he’s still playing in the outfield and at DH, he’s getting chances on the mound as well. Bethancourt came in to close out the game for the Caballos de Cocle on Wednesday night. And he looked pretty good doing it, giving the organization a sign of what he could do next season in San Diego.

It remains to be what will happen with him in the Majors, however. Either he can be a full-time catcher, a full-time DH or move to another position. Or perhaps he moves to the mound and becomes a pitcher. I’m pretty sure not even he knows what he’ll do. But one thing is certain: Bethancourt will be a versatile player, and the Padres would be wise to use him in as many roles as they can. Having that kind of player in an NL roster would be priceless.

It’s not like he’s a bad hitter, too. His average is pretty low, but he has decent power. In his first year with the Padres, Bethancourt hit .228/.265/.368 with six homers and 25 RBI in 193 at-bats. Those aren’t very encouraging numbers, but it’s clear his value lies on his versatility.

So far, so good. But all signs point towards 2017 being a huge year for the catcher/outfielder/DH/pitcher. And at 25 years of age, he even has the time on his side.

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