JUPITER, Fla. – Christian Bethancourt only batted once Tuesday, but that was enough for the prized catching prospect to unload on a pitch and help end the Braves’ eight-game losing streak.
Bethancourt, known more for exceptional defensive skills, hit a tying homer with one out in the ninth inning against the Marlins in a game that ended in a 2-2 tie after 10 innings and left Atlanta with a 1-10-1 record.
The Braves led 1-0 before Anthony Varvaro gave up two runs on three hits and two walks in the seventh inning. Starter Mike Minor worked four crisp innings and Kris Medlen pitched two scoreless innings before Varvaro blew the lead.
Bethancourt, 20, entered in the eighth inning and homered in the ninth off right-hander Evan Reed. Bethancourt is 4-for-10 with a double, homer and two sacrifice flies this spring, tied for the team RBI lead despite limited playing time.
“He’s one of those rare guys that he can catch and throw and is becoming more and more of an offensive player,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He’s maturing. He had a hell of an Arizona Fall League. For a guy who everybody talked about his defense, his offense is solid.”
Bethancourt had as many homers (five) in 72 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League as he had all last season in Class A ball. He hit .289 with a .304 on-base percentage in 387 total at-bats in 2011 while splitting the season between low-A Rome and high-A Lynchburg.
Hicks claimed by A’s
Infielder Brandon Hicks was waived by the Braves and claimed by Oakland. Hicks, 26, was 1-for-10 with seven strikeouts this spring, after spending most of last season at Triple-A Gwinnett and batting .252 with a .333 OBP and 18 homers in 361 at-bats.
In parts of two seasons with the major-league Braves, he was 1-for-26 with two walks and 11 strikeouts.
Braves to face Strasburg
The Braves will face Nationals fireballer Stephen Strasburg in a Wednesday night (6:05) game that’ll be shown on Fox Sports South and the MLB Network. Top prospect Julio Teheran gets the start for Atlanta.