Bethancourt shows off bat, arm in AFL

Bethancourt shows off bat, arm in AFL

Bethancourt shows off bat, arm in AFL
Christian Bethancourt swung and threw as hard as he could on Friday afternoon in the Arizona Fall League, but his efforts fell short.

The Braves' No. 4 prospect smacked a three-run home run and caught a would-be base-stealer, but the opposing Phoenix Desert Dogs scored the game's final 10 runs to top the Surprise Saguaros, 11-5.

Bethancourt put the Saguaros ahead, 5-1, in the third inning when he pulled a 1-1 fastball from Dogs starter T.J. McFarland (Indians) over the left-field wall.

"He threw me a fastball in my first at-bat and got me out. He made the mistake [of] throwing the same fastball, and it was over the plate," said Bethancourt, 21, who later led off the eighth inning with a double but was left stranded at second base.

In the top of the third frame, Bethancourt also demonstrated his defensive abilities, throwing out an ambitious Corban Joseph (Yankees) at second base.

"Change-up right down the middle, I made the throw. It was high, but we got him," the catcher said. "I know that players like to talk about my arm, but I just like to use it when I have to use it."

In 99 games in the Minors this season, split between Class A Rome and Class A Advanced Lynchburg, Bethancourt batted .289 with five home runs and 53 RBIs. He said he lacked concentration at times during the year, fretting too often over an 0-for-4 day at the plate or one too many strikeouts.

Through 11 AFL games, he is batting an even .350.

The rest of Friday's game was the Michael Choice show. The A's No. 2 prospect belted his sixth AFL homer for the game's first run, victimizing starter Sean Gilmartin (Braves) in the opening inning.

Choice also collected a pair of two-run singles, the first of which came in the seventh inning against J.J. Hoover (Braves) and broke a 5-5 tie.

"He's a pretty good hitter. He was tough to pitch to," said Bethancourt, "because he was always on the ball [whether] they were fastballs, change-ups or curveballs."

The 21-year-old A's slugger is batting .362 and has 14 RBIs in 12 games.

McFarland gave up five runs on six hits and four walks while striking out four batters over 3 2/3 frames. He remains 2-0, having not earned a decision in his past three starts.

Counterpart Gilmartin allowed two runs on five hits over five frames. Atlanta's first-round Draftee last June fanned four batters and walked a pair.

Andrew Pentis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.