23 Jun

scattered about

One of the more compelling stories of the 2022 season has been the return to the big leagues of Christian Bethancourt. The former Atlanta prospect, who played for the Mississippi Braves in 2012-13, won a job with Oakland as a non-roster invitee in the spring and is batting .241 with four homers and 17 RBIs. Before this season, Bethancourt had not played in the majors since 2017. He labored in the minors, in Korea and in winter ball. When he homered on June 1, off Justin Verlander, it was his first bomb in MLB in 2,118 days. If — just for kicks — you were to put together a team of former M-Braves now playing for other organizations, Bethancourt would be a prominent member. Put him at catcher. At first base, there’s the great Freddie Freeman, who left Atlanta this spring for a bigger contract from the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is producing as expected: .302, seven homers, 42 RBIs. (He’ll make his much-anticipated return to the ATL on Friday.) Second base: Tommy LaStella, now with San Francisco. Shortstop: Andrelton Simmons, Chicago Cubs. Third base: Johan Camargo, Philadelphia. The outfield would feature Jason Heyward (Cubs), Cristian Pache (A’s) and Dylan Moore (Seattle). Willians Astudillo (Miami) would make a fine DH. There is an abundance of former M-Braves pitchers scattered around the big leagues. The best of the bunch might be left-hander Alex Wood, who has 68 career wins (5-5 in 2022) and started — albeit poorly — for the Giants today at Truist Park against his former club. Craig Kimbrel (Dodgers) is the logical choice as closer. (For what it’s worth: Williams Perez leads the Mexican League in ERA, and Joey Terdoslavich is among the league’s top home run hitters.)

15 Jun

caught short?

A quick check of Atlanta’s top 30 prospects on mlb.com reveals two catchers. Jose Briceno, No. 20, is hitting .156 at Class A Carolina. Tanner Murphy, No. 26, is batting .178 at low Class A Rome. Chris O’Dowd, a fringe prospect acquired in the off-season from Colorado, was hitting .304 for the Double-A Mississippi Braves when he was slapped last week with an 80-game drug suspension. Why is any of this relevant? Well, the Atlanta Braves sent “catcher of the future” Christian Bethancourt down to Triple-A Gwinnett. Relegated to backing up 38-year-old A.J. Pierzynski, Bethancourt, 23, was batting .208 with one home run and had five passed balls and three errors in his 27 games. Bethancourt, who has a rifle arm, seemed to have a breakthrough with the M-Braves in 2013, when he hit .277 with 12 homers and made the Southern League postseason All-Star team. He was a consensus top five prospect in the system after a solid season at Gwinnett in 2014. Atlanta essentially handed him the starting job this spring — and he fumbled it away in short order. Can he ever recover it? Is Atlanta shopping for a catcher? The Braves drafted five last week, two from four-year colleges and a second-rounder from a California high school. Maybe there’s a “catcher of the future” in that bunch. P.S. LSU lost its College World Series opener to TCU 10-3 on Sunday, but former Southwest Mississippi Community College star Kade Scivicque held up his end with a 2-for-4, one-RBI day. Scivicque, the Tigers’ catcher and cleanup batter, is hitting .350 with six homers and 46 RBIs on the season. LSU plays an elimination game on Tuesday. … Arkansas, facing elimination in the CWS tonight against Miami, has two Mississippi juco products on its roster, pitcher Jackson Lowery of Meridian CC and outfielder Krisjon Wilkerson of Pearl River CC. Neither appeared in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to Virginia.