Christian Bethancourt spent the entire season in San Diego, making 41 appearances behind the plate in addition to playing 12 games in the outfield, one at second base, and taking the ball twice for manager Andy Green as a relief pitcher. Bethancourt's strong arm has always been praised as part of his profile as a defense-first catcher, but he touched 96 mph with his fastball during his time on the mound while mixing in a mid-80s changeup and a few knuckleballs. It's possible that Bethancourt will focus on pitching in preparation for 2017, if only to add to his versatility off the bench. At the plate, Bethancourt made small strides in 2016, hitting a career-high six homers while finishing with a .228/.263/.368 line in 204 plate appearances. He's never shown a particularly discerning eye at the plate, however, and a full-time move to the mound may be the best use of Bethancourt's tools if the organization doubts the possibility of further development as a hitter.
Bethancourt will make his first catching appearance in the Padres' Cactus League game Sunday, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The 25-year-old is being tested for a role as a dual catcher/pitcher this season, and he'll get his first action of the spring in his more familiar role after appearing exclusively as a pitcher for the beginning of the spring. Bethancourt has found a surprising amount of success on the mound so far, allowing as many hits as he's garnered himself (none), so if he continues to find success there while playing good enough defense behind the plate, his combined role could be his calling card for a 25-man roster spot.
Bethancourt has yet to allow a hit through three spring training innings. Bethancourt -- primarily a catcher -- has been experimenting with pitching this spring. He threw another scoreless inning in Friday's win over the Angels, notching his first strikeout in the process. Bethancourt features a mid-to-high 90s fastball, but is far from a finished product. If he continues to have success in Cactus League action, then he should punch his ticket for the 25-man roster due to his unique blend of being able to fill three backup spots on the depth chart (catcher, outfielder and pitcher).
Bethancourt will make his first Cactus League pitching appearance Wednesday, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. After lots of work in the offseason to develop him as a pitcher, the right-handed fireballer will finally get to strut his stuff against major league competition. He's also scheduled to DH later in the week, showing that the Padres want to keep all options open for the future, but if his spring debut goes well, Bethancourt could work his way into more consistent bullpen work throughout the season.
Bethancourt is targeting early March for his Cactus League pitching debut, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The Padres have been working with the catcher on his pitching mechanics, and recently clocked his fastball at 97 mph during a Panama Winter League game. Although the Padres have been unclear about his role going forward, his powerful arm could see him in the bullpen more often than expected. Last year with the Padres, the 25-year-old pitched 1.2 scoreless innings in two games, and slashed .228/.265/.368 in 204 plate appearances.
Bethancourt will pitch in the Panama Winter League soon, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The Padres have been working with the catcher on his pitching mechanics, and recently had his fastball clocked at 97 miles per hour. Bethancourt is even developing a changeup, although the Padres are still insisting that he is not fully converting to being a pitcher. His role for the 2017 season should become clearer once he logs some innings in Panama, although his high-octane arm could push him to the bullpen more frequently if all goes well over the winter.