Archive for Dellin Betances
8:28pm: VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman confirmed to Norris that Betances had an MRI and has been diagnosed with shoulder tendinitis, so at least there’s nothing structurally wrong in there.
5:30pm: The year of the pitching prospect injuries continues. Josh Norris reports that right-hander Dellin Betances has been placed on the Double-A disabled list with a sore right shoulder following last night’s four-inning, 82-pitch outing. With both Manny Banuelos and Jose Campos missing most of the season with elbow trouble, the top three pitchers on my Preseason Top 30 Prospects List have now spent time on the shelf with an arm injury this year.
Betances, 24, is in the middle of a disastrous season split between Triple-A and Double-A. He’s pitched to a 6.44 ERA in 131.1 innings, with a walk rate (6.8 BB/9 and 15.7 BB%) that is far too high and a strikeout rate (8.5 K/9 and 19.6 K%) that is well-below his previous career norms. Arm injuries are nothing new for Betances, who had Tommy John surgery in 2009 and also missed about a month with a sore shoulder in 2008. The minor league season ends in less than two weeks, so he’s probably done for the year even if the Thunder make a deep playoff run.
This has been a very poor year for the farm system, mostly due to injuries. High-end prospects like OF Mason Williams (shoulder), LHP Manny Banuelos (elbow), and RHP Jose Campos (elbow) suffered season-ending injuries, the latter two before the calendar even flipped to June. OF Tyler Austin missed about a month with a concussion, and OF Slade Heathcott (shoulder) and C Austin Romine (back) didn’t get into their first games until June and July, respectively. Add in the usual array of miscellaneous injuries to lesser prospects, and you have one ugly season on the farm.
One player who has managed to avoid the injury bug this year is RHP Dellin Betances, which is somewhat ironic because he was spending time on the DL with arm-related injuries every year earlier in his career. Instead, Betances has seen his prospect stock take a hit because of his performance. Never known for his command, he walked 69 batters in 74.2 innings with Triple-A Empire State (8.3 BB/9 and 19.0 BB%) before being demoted down to Double-A Trenton. Betances has been better with the Thunder — 3.8 BB/9 and 9.6 BB% in 44.2 innings — but still has a long way to go in his development.
VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman told Mike Ashmore yesterday that Betances is likely to spend the rest of the season in Trenton, which makes sense. Newman reiterated that he, and presumably others in the organization believe the right-hander can start long-term, but that’s no surprise. Even if they don’t believe that at all, they wouldn’t say so. After a little back-and-forth with Ashmore, he mentioned that he believes the Yankees are just wasting time by not sticking Betances in the bullpen now, and that got me thinking a bit about the plan for the righty going forward.
First of all, we have to understand what the problem. Betances isn’t just having trouble with his command this year, he’s having trouble with basic strike-throwing ability, especially during his time in Triple-A. This isn’t a case of a guy being unable to hit the corners, Dellin hasn’t been hitting the strike zone at all. Is that something that will click with a move to the bullpen? It’s possible, but I believe that he’s going to need as many innings as possible to iron things out. As Keith Law and Kevin Goldstein recently explained, it’s a mechanical issue more than anything. Despite his size — listed at 6-foot-8, 260 lbs. — Betances is not all that athletic and has trouble repeating his delivery.
Secondly, the Yankees do have time on their side. Betances isn’t a kid anymore, he’ll turn 25 in Spring Training next year, but the club still holds one more minor league option for next season. They can send him down to Triple-A again to work on whatever he needs to work on, which apparently is a lot. The conversion from starting to relieving isn’t the most difficult thing in the world — guys often say the biggest adjustment they have to make is to their warm-up routine. With a little less than a month to go in the minor league regular season plus a potential playoff run (Trenton has an eight-game lead in the division and should have no problem qualifying for the postseason), Betances has at least another five starts left to make this summer, likely more. Those innings are valuable.
The Yankees have given Betances 113 minor league starts and nearly 500 minor league innings to improve his ability to hit the strike zone, and so far it hasn’t happened. He still misses bats (8.6 K/9 and 20.3 K% this year), throws hard, and actually has two very nice offspeed pitches in his curveball and changeup, but he has yet to harness that stuff. I think that unless some kind of light bulb clicks over the next few weeks, Dellin should go into next year as a regular old short reliever to see if he can make it work just by going out and letting it fly for one inning at a time. I respectfully disagree with Ashmore that they’ve been wasting time by not putting him the bullpen yet, but starting next spring they have to focus on extracting value from Betances however possible. A shift to relief is the next logical step.
In an Insider-only blog post, Keith Law ranked baseball’s best prospects on contending teams in terms of their trade value. SS Jurickson Profar of the Rangers tops the list, followed by RHP Gerrit Cole of the Pirates and OF Oscar Taveras of the Cardinals. The Yankees didn’t place anyone in the top ten, but C Gary Sanchez and OF Mason Williams rank 13th and 15th, respectively. They would have ranked higher had it not been for the whole Single-A thing — kids at the upper levels have more trade value because they’re closer to contributing.
On the other side of the coin, Kevin Goldstein posted an article (Insider req’d) looking at prospects who have lost trade value this season. Both LHP Manny Banuelos and RHP Dellin Betances made the list thanks to their disappointing seasons, the former due to an elbow injury and the latter due to control problems. The Yankees are kinda stuck in trade bait limbo right now, with their top chips in the lower minors and their upper level chips struggling.
Via Josh Norris, the White Sox are “zeroing in” on right-hander Dellin Betances after scouting his last three Double-A starts. No word on if the two sides are actually talking trade or anything like that, however. Betances does fit their style though, they grab big power arms and hope pitching coach Don Cooper can help them out. That part makes sense.
I’m not quite sure what the ChiSox realistically have to offer that can help the Yankees. Chicago’s contending so it’s not like they’re going to send over Matt Thornton or something, that would be ideal. Gordon Beckham would be a sweet change of scenery candidate, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
I’ve got five questions for you this week and I was able to keep the answers to four of them reasonably short. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send up mailbag questions or anything else.
Daniel asks: Is Josh Willingham a possible trade target at the trade deadline? He’s having a good year, signed to a reasonable mid-term deal, and the Twins are awful. Any idea what sort of return he would command?
Willingham is having an insane year with the Twins — 173 wRC+ and eleven homers — after signing a three-year, $27M deal this offseason. Given Minnesota’s terribleness — 22-34 with a -70 run differential — and the fact that his value is at its apex at age 33, it would make sense for them to shop him around before he comes back to Earth. Kinda like what the Pirates did with Xavier Nady in 2008. Because he signed as a free agent this winter, the Twinkies can not trade him without his consent until one week from today. In other words, it’s no big deal.
Anyway, the Yankees don’t really have anywhere to play Willingham this season unless Brett Gardner‘s elbow injury lingers. He’s supposed to play in his first minor league rehab game tonight, so we’ll find out how well he’s recovering soon enough. The Yankees will presumably need a corner outfielder to replace Nick Swisher after the season however, and Willingham is affordable enough. His defense is terrible though and his best position is DH. Still, right-handed power is in short supply.
I usually try to think of comparable players when thinking up trade scenarios, but I can’t come up with anyone like Willingham. Older guy who’s still productive with two full seasons left on his market rate free agent contract? Does Miguel Tejada to the Astros work? Scott Rolen to the Reds? Those two got traded for quantity over quality packages. I’m sure the Yankees could cull something together in that case, but this isn’t a vacuum. Willingham would help any team but he really doesn’t fit New York’s roster.
A different Daniel asks: If Rafael Soriano can put together an above average statistical season, what would you say the odds are that he hits the road after this season?
Zero percent. Soriano is owed $14M next season and there’s no chance he’ll match that on the open market. No one wanted to sign him two offseasons ago coming off the best season of his life and I doubt the sentiment has changed this time around. Heck, Ryan Madson is flat out better than Soriano and there was no market for him last winter. I’m sure every club will have Heath Bell in the back of their mind whenever they think about signing a free agent reliever going forward, and that won’t help his case. Considering that he’s a health risk and is very good but not dominant, I can’t imagine any number of saves will have Soriano thinking about opting out of his current deal.
Jacob asks: Do you think Dellin Betances needs a mechanical change to help with his walks? Maybe more of a sidearm or 3/4 delivery (Randy Johnson-esque) could possibly allow him to harness his abilities?
Dellin needs something to help with the walks and a mechanical change seems like an obvious solution. I’m not pitching coach or anything, so I have no idea if changing his arm slot or something like that will have a positive impact. I’ve always gotten the impression that it’s difficult to throw strikes with anything below a three-quarters slot, especially if there’s anything more an average velocity involved. Johnson was just a freak of nature and an extreme outlier, I wouldn’t use that guy as blueprint for anything.
At some point the Yankees need to do something about Betances, I can’t imagine an 8.1 BB/9 (19.0 BB%) is good for his confidence. I don’t know if it’s a move to the bullpen or a change in mechanics or a stern talking to, but this can’t go on forever.
Andrew asks: Why is nobody giving more attention to Corban Joseph? I know Single-A is the future, but he seems to have real pinstripes potential if he switches to the left side of the infield.
That’s the problem, he can’t switch to the left side of the infield. Joseph’s defense basically meets the minimum standards at second base and isn’t nearly good enough for short. He hasn’t even played one inning at shortstop in the minors and that’s not an accident. If he had a chance to play the position, they would have tried him there at some point. Joseph can handle third but not well, plus he’s unlikely to provide enough to play the position for a meaningful amount of time.
I don’t really know what Joseph is long-term. He makes good contact from the left side and draws some walks, so he has offensive value. Do they pigeon-hole him into a bench role and hope to hide his defense? Do they try him in an outfield corner and hope he can play second base as well as left and maybe right? I don’t really know. Joseph is on the 40-man though, so the Yankees see something they like in him.
J.R. asks: Mike, with all of the pre-draft deals that apparently took place this year, do you expect MLB to try and crack down on these next year?
They can try, but I’m not quite sure what they can do about it. I doubt the teams are getting these agreements in writing, so they’d basically have to look over the shoulder of every area scout to make sure he isn’t taking money with a player before the draft. I’m sure MLB would love to crack down on pre-draft arrangements, but it just might not be possible. Teams will always find a workaround.
Via Chad Jennings, the Yankees have optioned Dellin Betances to Triple-A and reassigned both Mike O’Connor and Juan Cedeno to minor league camp. This is the third round of roster cuts (round one, round two) and effectively reduces to second lefty reliever race to just Cesar Cabral and Clay Rapada. Rapada has been the front-runner all camp, but I’m starting to think Cabral will get the nod. He’s quietly been very effective and is several years younger than Rapada, so there’s at least a chance at upside going forward.
I return from Arizona with links, minor league links…
- Marc Hulet of FanGraphs posted his list of the top 100 prospects in baseball today, and four Yankees farmhands made the cut: Manny Banuelos (#38), Jose Campos (#65), Dellin Betances (#68), and Mason Williams (#98). Bit surprising to see Campos ranked so highly, but I have a hard time believing their are 100 better prospects than Gary Sanchez out there. He’s got too much talent to ignore, and not everyone on that list is a choir boy.
- VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman told Josh Norris that “injuries have taken their toll” on Bradley Suttle, and he’s not in camp at the moment. The team doesn’t know if he’s going to quit baseball or just take a hiatus. Suttle signed for $1.3M as a fourth round pick in 2007 soon after Baseball America (subs. req’d) called him the best pure college hitter in the draft class. He’s battled shoulder problems (with multiple surgeries) and has hit .256/.334/.417 in nearly 1,400 minor league plate appearances.
- The Yankees added three international players this offseason: LHP Rigoberto Arrebato, RHP Pedro Guerra, and RHP Giovanny Gallegos. Norris has a little something on each player, and it seems like Gallegos is the only one worth watching. The team has a knack for finding talent in Mexico.
- And finally, the Yankees released Jamie Mallard according to Matt Eddy. They signed the husky slugger last summer after he’d hit .291/.357/.457 in a handful of rookie ball plate appearances with the Angels, but he never played a game in the Yankees’ system. Mallard is listed at 6-foot-0 and 265 lbs.
The third of the big three top 100(-ish) prospects lists was published today, with Baseball America revealing their rankings of the game’s very best future big leaguers. The list is free for all, you don’t need a subscription. Bryce Harper claims the top spot, followed by Matt Moore and Mike Trout. Those three have consistently been ranked as baseball’s three best prospects this offseason, just not always in the same order. Number four is Yu Darvish, who I don’t consider a prospect given those 1,200+ innings he threw overseas.
Anyway, Manny Banuelos leads all Yankees’ farmhands at #29, which is right where Keith Law (#23) and Kevin Goldstein (#29) had him. Hooray for consensus. Dellin Betances is ranked #63, Gary Sanchez #81, and Mason Williams #85. Opinions on the club’s second, third, and fourth best prospects are pretty split, both in their rankings within the system and through the game. All four are considered legitimate top 100 guys though, and that’s better than most.
The Yankees were one of 13 teams with at least four players to make the top 100, but they were one of only three teams to originally sign six players on the list. Jesus Montero ranks #6 behind Harper, Moore, Trout, Darvish, and Julio Teheran while Arodys Vizcaino is a little further down at #40. The Cardinals and Rangers are the only other clubs to originally sign six top 100 prospects, but again they’re counting Darvish as a prospect. Former Yankees’ first round pick Gerrit Cole is #12.
Since we’re in prospect mode, I’m going to point you towards Jason Parks’ article about what could go wrong for each of the Yankees’ top five prospects. It’s part of his series taking a pessimistic look at each club’s best farmhands, a little dose of reality to temper expectations in prospect fantasyland. You do need a subscription to read the entire thing, but non-subscribers will still be able to read the Sanchez and Banuelos write-ups. Much to my surprise, he considers Angelo Gumbs the team’s fifth best prospect. “My eyes told me Gumbs had star potential, a future you don’t often envision when watching short-season baseball,” he wrote. “I’m probably a few years too early with this ranking, and I understand if people wish to question my sanity.”
While I don’t bother with a top 100 list, I did rank the Yankees’ top 30 prospects last Friday. So check that out, in case you missed it. Even if you didn’t, go read it again. If you’re yearning for more prospect knowledge, you can participate in BA’s free top 100 chat later this afternoon (2pm ET).
Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein published his list of the top 101 prospects in baseball today, with Matt Moore beating out Bryce Harper and Mike Trout for the top spot. You don’t need a subscription to read the piece, it’s free for everyone. Four Yankees made the list, and I’m willing to bet you can guess who they are. Manny Banuelos came it at #29, Gary Sanchez at #40, Dellin Betances at #63, and Mason Williams at #99. Our former lord and savior Jesus Montero is number seven. Keith Law posted his top 100 list last week, if you want to compare the two.
Spring prospect season is in full swing, starting yesterday with Keith Law’s organizational rankings. It continued today with his list of the game’s top 100 prospects (1-25, 26-50, 51-75, 76-100) and top ten prospects by team (all Insider req’d). The Yankees placed four in the top 100, which was unsurprisingly topped by Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Matt Moore. Manny Banuelos checks in at #23 (down from #12 last year), Mason Williams at #34, Gary Sanchez at #55, and Dellin Betances at #83. Jesus Montero is ranked ninth, one spot ahead of another old pal, Gerrit Cole.
“When he’s right, he’ll show an above-average fastball at 90-94 mph (but was a tick below that in 2011), an above-average to plus changeup and a solid-average curveball with good two-plane break,” said KLaw about Banuelos, while noting that his trademark command was off last season. “Everything still points to Banuelos commanding the ball in the long term as he did before 2011, and much of the disappointment in his season is a function of our high expectations for him. He still projects as a solid No. 2, assuming his previous level of command returns.”
Williams’ ranking was a bit surprising, but in a good way. I’m pretty sure you won’t see him that high anywhere else this year. “[The] most impressive part of [Williams'] game in 2011 was the quality of his at bats, which improved over the course of the summer,” said Law. “[He's] barely begun to scratch the surface of his ability.” The biggest thing for Williams going forward is his size, not necessarily his tools. He just needs to bulk up and add some muscle to avoid having the bat knocked out of his hands by high-end fastballs at the upper levels.
The preseason hype machine was out of control with Sanchez last year, which is why it’s easy to think he had a disappointing season with Low-A Charleston. The attitude problems were disappointing, but the power and production certainly weren’t. “Sanchez’s first full year in pro ball had major positives and negatives — the bat is more advanced than anyone thought, and the glove is less so,” Law said. “He can really hit with present above-average power and projects to hit 30 to 35 homers a year down the road, having demonstrated a solid approach for an 18-year-old in full-season ball … He could be a star.”
Last but not least is Betances, who continues to look more and more like a reliever because he hasn’t improved his command at all in five years as a pro. “He’ll pitch in the low 90s but runs it up to 97 mph and would likely sit 94-97, if not better, in relief,” said KLaw, adding that his curveball and delivery are inconsistent. The latter contributes to his strike-throwing problem. “He’s 23 now, still not very experienced, but he has size and velocity you can’t teach. The lack of progress and athleticism make a bullpen role more likely than a spot in the top half of a rotation.”
Those four top Law’s list of the top ten Yankees prospects, followed by a surprising name at number five: Tyler Austin. There’s no write-up, but I have to think he believes in the bat and thinks Austin can stay at third base long-term to warrant a ranking that high. Jose Campos, Dante Bichette Jr., Austin Romine, J.R. Murphy, and Slade Heathcott round out the top ten. Ravel Santana is a top ten guy based on talent, but I have no problem with leaving him out given that devastating ankle injury. Law also published a list of ten prospects who just missed the Top 100 (Insider req’d), but no Yankees farmhands made the list. Just as a heads up, my Top 30 Prospects List is coming out next Friday, so hooray for that.
Update: ESPN NY has the full player comments for Banuelos, Williams, Sanchez, and Betances for free, so head over there to check them out.