Every year, Major League Baseball hosts the All-Star Futures Game, which pits the top young prospects in the game against each other in two squads. One team is made up of United States-born players, where the other roster is filled with international talent.
This year, the Braves have one representative on each team. Joey Terdoslavich will represent Atlanta on the US Team, while Christian Bethancourt will represent Atlanta on the World Team.
Terdoslavich has spent all year playing for AAA Gwinnett, where he has been moved around the diamond in an effort to try and find him a defensive position that he could help Atlanta by playing. So far, he has split his time between first base, left field, right field, and the designated hitter, with a very small sprinkling of third base on occasion. Many Braves fans will remember that the organization tried to convert Terdoslavich to third base last year, with borderline-disastrous results. Regardless of where he plays, Terdoslavich's defense will never be an asset, but his bat, on the other hand, will be.
"Terdo", as he's known by most Braves' fans, has arguably been the best hitter in the International League this year. His .323 batting average is good for fourth in the league, while his .593 slugging percentage ranks second. He's second in the league with 18 home runs (tied with teammate Ernesto Mejia), and his 24 doubles lead the league. His 176 total bases are also 12 more than the next nearest International League player. The one knock on Terdoslavich is that he hasn't walked enough - only 19 in 323 PAs so far - but I suspect some of this has to do with the fact that he's hitting everything right now. Regardless, it will be exciting to see Terdoslavich go up against some of the game's top young pitchers.
While Terdoslavich is setting the International League on fire, Christian Bethancourt's offensive numbers make me want to set myself on fire (I kid, I kid.) As a 21-year-old at AA Mississippi, Bethancourt's offense has been almost nonexistent. Currently, Bethancourt is slashing .263/.281/.386 in 181 PAs, and it has taken a recent hot streak to get his numbers to those levels. I knocked Terdoslavich's walks earlier, but Bethancourt makes him look like Joey Votto. In 44 games this year, Bethancourt has drawn 4 walks. That is not a misprint. Bethancourt's power has also yet to materialize, as he sports just 9 doubles and 4 home runs.
But all is not lost. Bethancourt's floor is still a big league backup because of his defense. Widely considered one of - if not the - best catchers in the minor leagues, Bethancourt almost assuredly made it to the Futures Game on the strength of his defense. While he's still raw as a receiver, his arm strength is uncanny, and his pop times make scouts turn their head. Bethancourt started in last year's Futures Game and got to show off that pop, gunning down Jonathan Singleton on an attempted steal. Make sure you watch him behind the plate so you can see the reason he's still so highly regarded.
The Futures Game will be held at Citi Field on Sunday, July 14.
For more on the seasons Terdoslavich and Bethancourt have had so far this year, check out this piece Mark did recently highlighting Atlanta hitting prospects.