Christian Bethancourt & Darin Mastroianni: Deep League Wire

It’s time for another day of deep league wire fun. If you’re in dire need of a catcher or some speed, you have stumbled upon the right place.

Christian Bethancourt | C ATL | CBS 6% owned

The Braves placed Evan Gattis on the DL yesterday with a bulging thoracic disc in his back. That doesn’t sound good. Back injuries are always tricky and there’s no word yet on how much time he may miss. The team called up Bethancourt on June 28 and he should see the majority of the at-bats behind the plate. The good news: he’s regarded as being one of the top defensive catchers in the minors. That means he could provide real baseball value and remain in the lineup even if he isn’t hitting. The bad news: his offense isn’t quite there. But hey, apparently his power is a sight to see in batting practice!

Bethancourt’s offensive profile is quite bad. While he makes above average contact, that’s really the only good skill he has displayed. Of course, if he didn’t, then he may have never sniffed the Majors. Although he does make reasonable contact, he has rarely walked, resulting in some pretty pathetic on base percentages at various minor league stops. But, his batting average won’t kill you, and playing a catcher who won’t hurt you in the category has value. He showed some home run power at Double-A last year, but that has been the only time. He’s even shown some speed, stealing double digit bases several times. However, his success rate has been poor, so it would be unwise to expect more than a token steal or two.

The bottom line is that you’re taking a shot here based on the promise of regular at-bats at catcher. Winners of deep leagues typically accomplish the feat by being at or near the top in plate appearances. So merely playing has value¬†and is enough to recommend him.

Darin Mastroianni | OF TOR| 0% owned

Mastroianni is pretty much the opposite of Bethancourt. He doesn’t really have a clear path to playing time, but when he does play, he should contribute more value than the latter. Apparently I’m quite the sucker for him as I recommended the speedster last year as well. The playing time that does arise will come in the form of at-bats versus left-handers and pinch running and hitting opportunities.

Over about a half season worth of plate appearances, Mastroianni has struck out at a significantly higher rate than you want to see from a slap hitter with no power. It is also a much higher rate than he has posted in the minors. So the potential is there to improve upon that mark and not kill you in batting average. And of course, he needs to get on base to utilize his main fantasy tool — speed. He has stolen 24 bases in 28 attempts over his short career, for a 51 steal pace extrapolated over 600 plate appearances. That was even accomplished in spite of a ghastly .287 OBP. So if he suddenly remembers how to make the type of contact he has in the minors, then he could be a nice source of stolen bases.

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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jim S.
jim S.

The Braves like Laird more than you think. He will play as much as Bethancourt.