The Braves do not feature many prominent hitting prospects in their farm system as of now, but one of the ones with a bright future is catcher Christian Bethancourt. While many scouts still believe he is rather raw and has a long way to go before being ready for the Major Leagues, the 20 year old out of Panama certainly has the tools to become a star.
MLB.com recently listed their top-10 catching prospects for 2012 and Bethancourt earned himself a spot.
7. Christian Bethancourt, Braves: Sometimes it just takes players a little longer, especially when they have the responsibilities of learning how to catch. The good news is when Bethancourt went back to the South Atlantic League for a return engagement in 2011, he started to figure things out, hitting for average and earning a promotion. Scouts raved about his tools in the Arizona Fall League as well, noting his athleticism and strong throwing arm behind the plate as well as ability to handle the bat. Still raw in many facets of the game, it will be interesting to watch how Bethancourt's AFL experience helps him in '12, perhaps in Double-A.
I'm not as high on Bethancourt as others are -- be sure to check out SBN Atlanta's prospect rankings later in the week -- but he could shoot up prospect lists if he finally breaks out in 2012. As mentioned in the snippet above, many felt he had a new-and-improved approach in Arizona, although it is a hitter's paradise in the Phoenix area. It will be interesting if he takes a step forward next season or if his development continues to stall.
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