Catcher Christian Bethancourt has a video game arsenal: Follows 49-mph pitch with 94-mph heater
Close your eyes and picture your dream baseball player: Perhaps he's a shortstop or -- better yet, a catcher. Yeah, yeah, a catcher. But one who can throw a fastball in the mid-90s, so he's also a relief pitcher. And, oooh, wait, I want him to throw a knuckleball, too. But not just any knuckleball -- I want his knuckleball to be slower than even Steven Wright's .
Now open your eyes.
That player already exists. His name is Christian Bethancourt. And with the Padres losing, 13-4, to the Marlins on Monday night, Bethancourt got a chance to show his stuff in his second relief appearance of the season. It was everything you could ask for and more.
His first pitch to Chris Johnson: 49-mph. His next two offerings? 93 and 94 mph to get him to fly out.
The batting cage-on-the-fritz-routine was all part of Bethancourt's gameplan. As he told MLB.com's AJ Cassavell after the game:
"I played with [Johnson] for two years, and I told him I was going to challenge him with all fastballs, so I just wanted to throw that one out there to start."
Next, he struck out reliever Brian Ellington on a 79-mph changeup, showing that he's got a full arsenal at his disposal.
While he would then walk Justin Bour and give up a single to J.T. Realmuto, Bethancourt retired Derek Dietrich to end the inning. Even if Bethancourt had a few jitters now that he was making his second appearance.
"I was actually more nervous this time than the first one. I told the guys in the bullpen I was nervous this time. I guess I threw more strikes this time."
With Bethancourt's scoreless sreak up to 1 2/3 innings, he only needs 56 1/3 more to go before he ties Orel Hershisher's record -- something easily accomplished by a player created in your dreams.
Given Andy Green's feelings, perhaps he will get a few more chances.
"It's a live arm, still with relatively zero pitching mechanics -- so just the arm whipping through the zone," said the Padres manager . "Not many people can stand up there and throw 95 like they're on a speed pitch at a carnival, but he does it pretty easily."