Dellin Betances | RHP
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Betances attended Grand Street High School. He popped up on the prospect map after a sophomore year growth spurt that saw him add six inches and twenty pounds to his frame. Betances dominated as a junior, going 6-0 with 100 strikeouts and just eleven hits allowed in 41.2 IP. He allowed one earned run all season and led Grand Street to the PSAL semifinals, where he struck out sixteen in a three hit shutout of New Utrecht. Invited to the prestigous Aflac All-American Game, Betances retired the heart of the West squad’s lineup on nine pitches in his only inning of work.
Baseball America rated Betances the seventh best high school prospect prior to his senior year, however he struggled due to mechanical issues that led to inconsistent velocity. Despite that, he still managed to set a school record with 20 strikeouts in one game. In the revised rankings before the draft, he still checked in as the 68th best prospect in the class, and top prospect in the state. Betances had a strong commitment to follow fellow New Yorker Pedro Alvarez to Vanderbilt, and unconfirmed rumors swirled that he wanted a seven figure bonus and would only sign with the Yankees.
Betances lasted until the eighth round of the ’06 draft, when his hometown team popped him with the 254th overall pick. Despite the Vandy commitment and rumored bonus demands, he signed quickly for a cool million bucks, at a time a record for the eighth round. Betances was assigned to the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Yanks after signing, and used his bonus money to buy his parents a house in Bogota after the summer.
Working the front end of a tandem start system with Zach McAllister, Betances had a dominant debut, allowing just 14 hits and 7 walks against 27 K in 23 IP. He fell short of qualifying for the league ERA title, but his 1.17 mark would have placed him second in the circuit. Betances started 2007 in Extended Spring Training to work on his mechanics, then reported to Short Season Staten Island in June. He made six decent starts for the Baby Bombers (25 IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 10.57 Kper9) before going down with a strained elbow that ended his season.
Although there was speculation that he would need Tommy John surgery, Betances reported to Low-A Charleston at the start of 2008 without incident, and started Opening Day for the River Dogs. He was solid in his first eleven starts (55 IP, 4.42 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 10.47 Kper9) but struggled with his control, walking 6.54 batters per 9 IP. In early June he went down with a sore shoulder, and missed a month before returning in early July. Betances was much stronger in the second half (60.1 IP, 3.28 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 10.59 Kper9), but most importantly he got over his control problems and reduced his walk rate by nearly four walks per game, down to 2.83 BBper9. Despite missing a month due to injury, Betances finished sixth in the South Atlantic League with 135 strikeouts, pacing the circuit with a 10.54 strikeouts per nine innings.
Betances works primarily with two pitches: a four seam fastball that sits in the mid-90’s and touches 98, and a hard downer curveball. He gets a wicked downward plane on his heater because of his size, and when he’s right hitters find it impossible to get any lift on his hard stuff. Betances’ changeup is in it’s infancy stages, and the Yanks have had him toy with a two seamer. His control varies day-to-day, but is generally okay.
Literally a monster on the mound, Betances checks in at 6’8″, 245 pounds. He struggles with his delivery because of his size and long limbs, often failing to maintain balance through his windup. Finding comfortable and consistent mechanics is always a difficult and cumbersome chore for tall pitchers, and it’ll probably be a few years before he figures things out.
Typical of high school pitchers, Betances still has to work on his fielding and ability to hold runners. He has a quiet confidence about him, and his work ethic is very good. The biggest issue with Betances is his durability, as he’s missed time with elbow and shoulder troubles the past few seasons, likely the result of mechanical issues. He must still prove he can hold up over a full season.
After a dominant second half with Charleston, Betances is ready to move up to High-A Tampa. Unless he devastates the Florida State League over the first ten or twelve weeks of the season, he’ll likely remain in Tampa for all of ’09.
If you’re cool enough to have been reading my stuff since the days of IGWT, then you know I’ve been on Betances since before he was even drafted. He’s very much a project, likely to need a full season at each level, but he’s a project with enormous upside and true ace potential. The key for his development is obviously his delivery. Once he gets that straightened out, his command will improve and everything else will come together. Betances doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster until after the 2010 season, so there’s no need to rush him through the system. If his control improvement in the second half last year was real, he’ll grow into one of the better pitching prospects in the game.