10:50pm: The Padres’ hope for Bethancourt is that he’ll continue to develop as a pitcher in the minors, manager Andy Green told reporters following Bethancourt’s outright (via the San Diego Union Tribune’s Dennis Lin). That determination remains somewhat up in the air, however, and it seems as if Bethancourt will have a significant say in the decision.
“I think the ball’s in his court on that,” said Green. “Our recommendation and desire as an organization is to see him on the mound, to see him continue on this path that he’s currently on, with almost all of the emphasis placed on the pitching side of things. … Our hope, our belief, is that we see him as a pitcher long-term and see him having success there.”
Lin’s column contains several more quotes from Green on the matter for those that are interested in Bethancourt’s unique career arc.
4:41pm: The Padres announced that utility man/reliever Christian Bethancourt has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A El Paso. In a corresponding move, the Friars have recalled infielder Cory Spangenberg from El Paso.
The 25-year-old Bethancourt, once a top catching prospect with the Braves, began working out as a pitcher with the Padres this offseason and pitched in the Panamanian Winter League. At the plate this year, he’s batted just eight times, going 1-for-7 with a walk. On the mound, he’s tossed 3 2/3 innings but allowing nine runs (six earned) on six hits and eight walks with two strikeouts. Bethancourt has averaged nearly 94 mph with his fastball, but it seems clear that his control remains a work in progress.
Heading to Triple-A should afford him further opportunities not only to work from the mound but also to up his proficiency at other positions. In the past year, Bethancourt has appeared at second base, catcher and in the outfield corners.
Spangenberg, meanwhile, offers an alternative to the slumping Ryan Schimpf (.102/.276/.254). A 26-year-old former first-round pick, Spangenberg is off to a fast start with El Paso, hitting .348/.403/.470. Spangenberg, like Schimpf, has experience at both second base and third base. With Yangervis Solarte’s move to second base this season, Spangenberg’s most immediate path to playing time would seem to be third base, though he does have a bit of experience in the outfield as well.