This is possibly my favorite story out of Atlanta Braves spring training camp so far. Braves beat writer Mark Bowman brings us the story of how the great Braves catcher from the 90's, Javy Lopez, is helping possibly the next great Braves catcher, prospect Christian Bethancourt:
"Javy talked to him a lot and helped him a lot," former Braves catcher and current bullpen coach Eddie Perez said. "Javy told him, 'I was stupid just like you.' When he asked what he meant, Javy explained to him that he didn't always carry himself the right way because he knew he was good and thought people should just adore him. Then he told him that he had to start working harder. And you know what, he's looked better the past three days."
Just awesome! Here is some of what Baseball America had to say about Bethancourt in their 2011 Prospect Handbook, where they ranked him the Braves 12th-best prospect:
For all his physical ability, Bethancourt has plenty of questions to answer about his approach to the game. He shows bad body language and questionable work ethic. Scouts have concerns about his lack of energy behind the plate.
They say this after spending the first ten sentences of the writeup raving about his physical tools. When you watch Bethancourt you can see that he's an impressive specimen, but there are plenty of times I've seen him and left scratching my head as to why I'm not more impressed. Not that we want anyone to replace our beloved Heap, but the more good prospects our system can produce the better the Braves will be.
I also like the Braves renewed focus on bringing back even more old players this year. From the bottom of the Bowman article there's this:
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Andres Galarraga, Dale Murphy, Gene Garber and Tom Glavine are expected to serve as guest coaches in camp this year. Javy Lopez and Phil Niekro have handled this role during the camp's first week.