The Braves made multiple roster moves today, and one was rather surprising. The Braves opted to demote Catcher Christian Bethancourt to AAA Gwinnett, and called up Catcher Ryan Lavarnway. Bethancourt has only hit 21-for-101 (.208) this year for the big league club, and he has struggled to see consistent at bats due to the performance of A.J. Pierzynski. This is not the Braves “giving up” on Bethancourt or a sign that they don’t believe he is the team’s future at the Catcher spot. The club still holds him to a high standard:
#Braves Hart likened sending down Bethancourt to Royals sending down Moustakas and Cards sending down Wong last season.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) June 15, 2015
That being said, the youngster still has a ton to prove. Consistent at-bats are a great thing for Bethancourt. I think his batting average could be 30-40 points higher if he played everyday, but he has to earn the starting spot from A.J. Pierzynski. This is not a permanent demotion, but there is certainly more pressure on Bethancourt. Lavarnway, like Bethancourt, was a highly regarded prospect as well. He was ranked as the 93rd best prospect headed into the 2012 season by MLB.com after hitting 32 homers between AA and AAA in 2011. Unfortunately, that success has not translated to the big leagues. Lavarnway has hit just .192 in his 307 career Major League at-bats with the Red Sox and Orioles. He hit just 3-for-28 for the Orioles in 2015 before opting to become a free agent when the Orioles outrighted him. This is clearly the Braves calling up some organizational depth in order to get Bethancourt more at-bats.
The Braves also called up Sugar Ray Marimon and demoted Todd Cunningham back to AAA Gwinnett. William Perez is on the mound and pitched in extra innings the other day, so this move is all about the Braves wanting one more arm in their bullpen for the next game or two. We saw Marimon sparingly at the beginning of the season, but he gave up five earned runs in 7.1 innings and his tenure as a Brave was short-lived. The cousin of Julio Teheran has started for AAA Gwinnett this season. It is highly likely we see Bethancourt and Cunningham back with the team soon.