One of the big knocks on Braves catching prospect Christian Bethancourt has been his maturity on the field, and his poor body language behind the plate. This has been something mentioned by professional scouts, but also picked up on by the casual fan (or blogger) in the stands. The AJC mentioned it in their article on Bethancourt last week. That's why this quote by Bethancourt from the Arizona Fall League is so great to read:
"Let me tell you something, when you sign a contract to become a professional baseball player, you are automatically a professional, but there are still a lot of things you have to learn to act like a professional." Bethancourt said. "I'm learning that here. There are some Double-A guys, some Triple-A guys and some that have played in the Major Leagues. It's been a great experience for a person like me who was at Class A." [...]
"I'm learning about the consistency of the game and what it takes to do it day to day," he said. "Some days are up and some days are down, but I'm learning about the responsibility that comes with this job, the focus that it takes. Maybe these are not the things people notice in the stands, but they are really important."
I thought it was pretty bold for the Braves to send Bethancourt to the AFL after only a couple of months at high A-ball, but being around older players must have been just what the young Panamanian needed. Kudos to the Braves for knowing that. Remember that he just turned 20 years old at the beginning of September.
If he truly has found a new work ethic and maturity level, then he may be poised for a huge season next year. He's already showing in the AFL that he has a legit bat, ranking 10th in the league with a .358 batting average, while being the fourth youngest player in the league. All that seemed to be lacking from his game was a consistent and serious approach.
He'll need that maturity next year as he continues to tackle a tough Carolina League, and perhaps an even harder double-A Southern League. Regardless of how he does for the remainder of the AFL, he already seems to have learned the lesson the Braves likely sent him out there to learn.