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Bethancourt isn't defined by numbers alone

Bethancourt isn't defined by numbers alone

Bethancourt isn't defined by numbers alone
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Do not judge Christian Bethancourt's experience in the Arizona Fall League by his statistics.

The numbers only tell part of the story for the young Atlanta catching prospect.

"Let me tell you something, when you sign a contract to become a professional baseball player, you are automatically a professional, but there are still a lot of things you have to learn to act like a professional." Bethancourt said. "I'm learning that here. There are some Double-A guys, some Triple-A guys and some that have played in the Major Leagues. It's been a great experience for a person like me who was at Class A."

Bethancourt, 20, who started behind the plate for the West Division in Saturday's Rising Stars Game at Surprise Stadium, is hitting .358 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 14 games for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League. He went 1-for-3 for the West in the 11-2 victory on Saturday.

Make no mistake, the statistics matter to Bethancourt. They just aren't what he will remember the most about his time in Arizona.

"I'm learning about the consistency of the game and what it takes to do it day to day," he said. "Some days are up and some days are down, but I'm learning about the responsibility that comes with this job, the focus that it takes. Maybe these are not the things people notice in the stands, but they are really important."

Talent has never been an issue for Bethancourt. Some believe that only Washington's Bryce Harper ranks above the 6-foot-2, 190-pound catcher in the Arizona Fall League.

Bethancourt's numbers are hard to ignore. He hit .289 with 16 doubles, 53 RBIs and 36 runs scored in 99 combined games between Class A Rome and High-A Lynchburg last season.

Bethancourt, who was signed by the Braves as an undrafted free agent out of Panama in 2008, hit .251 in 108 games for Rome in 2010 and .277 in 46 Rookie League games in '09.

"He's as talented as they come and he's only going to get better," said Derrick Lewis, the pitching coach for the West Division, who also serves as the pitching coach at Rome. "He's a smart kid, too. Very intelligent. Being in this atmosphere has definitely helped him."

Bethancourt is thriving in Arizona and has hit safely in 12 of his 13 starts. He also hit home runs in three consecutive games from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1.

The young catcher smiled when he was asked about his goals for the 2012 season.

"Of course, my goal is to make it to the Major Leagues as soon as I can," he said. "I hope it's with the Atlanta Braves. But I've always said, and I think every player thinks, that it does not matter for which team you get to the big leagues, it's just that you make it."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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