After tearing the cover off of the ball for the last few months at Double-A Mississippi, the Braves will call up top catching prospect Christian Bethancourt. The move was first reported by Tom Hart on Twitter this morning, and later confirmed by Mark Bowman. Dave O'Brien added that Bethancourt is expected to be the last of Atlanta's September call-ups, which means that Mississippi second baseman Tommy La Stella will not be getting a call.
When Talking Chop ranked him Atlanta's #11 prospect at midseason, Bethancourt was just coming off of a nagging injury, and had shown little in the way of power or patience. My how three months can change things. When the calendar hit June, Bethancourt started hitting - and, more importantly, hitting for power - and he hasn't really stopped since. Bethancourt hit .272/.288/.360 in 29 games before June 1, and .279/.313/.471 in 60 games since.
So, despite a virtually identical batting average, Bethancourt managed to raise his OBP .025 points (it's something!) and his slugging by a whopping .111 points. That's a .104 point climb in isolated power. The eye test supports these results too, as Bethancourt's swing is noticeably smoother now, and he's finally getting natural loft on balls from his swing, which is essential in the development of power (especially at the big league level).
I wouldn't expect Bethancourt to get a ton of playing time, but don't be surprised if he gets a few starts here and there, as well as potentially coming in as a defensive replacement late in games. Of course we'd all love to see him do well, but his results with the bat - good or bad - will be largely meaningless in such a small sample. It's just more important that he gets MLB at-bats and experience.
As a side note, I wouldn't be surprised if the Braves are using this chance to see what Bethancourt has to offer first hand. It's no secret that the organization has a large decision looming at the catching position with the impending free agency of Brian McCann.