Dellin Betances was once considered among the New York Yankees’ top prospects, reaching as high as number two on several lists and cracked Baseball America’s Top 50 Prospects just a couple of seasons ago. However, with his 25th birthday approaching in March, much of the prospect shine is beginning to rub away from Betances after he has struggled mightily the past couple of seasons with his control.
Betances is a big, hard-throwing right-hander, standing at 6’8” and weighing in at 260 pounds. He can get his fastball up into the mid-to-high 90s and was once considered a strong top of the rotation prospect. However, as is usually the case with tall pitchers, Betances has had a lot of trouble repeating his delivery and has gone from wild to erratic to Steve Blass-like at times.
Like Andrew Brackman, who along with Betances and small left-hander Manny Banuelos formed the “Killer B’s”, Betances has struggled with throwing strikes. After putting up solid numbers in Trenton in 2011 he earned a call-up to AAA where he began to have serious trouble finding the strike zone, walking 15 in 21 innings.
In 2012 the wheels on the Betances bus fell off. He began the year at AAA but walked 69 batters in 74.2 innings and gave up 71 hits. His ERA stood at 6.39 and his WHIP at 1.87 before being sent back down to Trenton.
Things didn’t get much better for Betances in AA as he posted a 6.51 ERA and 1.81 WHIP. If there is any positive he reduced his walks to 30 in 56.2 innings which is still far from where he needs to be. Right now, Betances is ticketed for a start at AA again unless he shows some real progress this spring.
The Yankees have said they plan to keep Betances as a starter for the time being. This is the right move. It wasn’t long ago he was considered a potential number two starter and there is no reason to give up hope. They knew Betances would be a project when they drafted him in the 8th round of the 2006 Draft and gave him big money to forgo a potential basketball career.
Keeping him as a starter, at least for the time being, might be the best thing to do. It will allow him to throw as many pitches as possible, working on his delivery and molding his delivery into something that is repeatable. If the Yankees feel Betances can’t be an effective starter then they will move him to the bullpen. However, at this moment, it is worth giving it one more try to see if he can live up to his potential.
It is easy to find relievers in baseball. It isn’t so easy to find top-of-the-rotation starters. This is why the Yankees must give Betances one more chance to see if he can be that guy. They invested enough money in him and owe it to themselves to be absolutely sure. With that said, I don’t think the organization views Betances through the same rose-colored glasses it once did. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees put him in the bullpen this season if he struggles early.