For the first part of the offseason the Pinstriped Bible staff will be grading 35 of the Yankees' main contributors to the 2013 roster. Their entire season will be taken into account, even if part of it came at the minor league level. We continue this series with Dellin Betances.
2013 Statistics: 6 G, 5.0 IP, 10.80 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 38.5 K%, 7.7 BB%, 5.0 K/BB
2014 Contract status: Controlled by Yankees, pre-arbitration
Dellin Betances....a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma with bad pitching mechanics. Betances was drafted in the 8th round of the 2006 amateur draft. But his draft position had less to do with his talent, and more to do with the assumption that he would be a tough sign away from Vanderbuilt. He was one of the rare players to spurn Vandy, although it took a cool $1 million to get him to break that commitment. He started seven games that summer for the GCL Yankees, posting a 1.16 ERA, 2.47 FIP, 10.4 K/9, and 3.86 K/BB. That was a very strong performance, justifying the large signing bonus, and pushing him into top-5 status in most Yankees prospect rankings.
Over the next three years, he continued to show high-octane stuff, but also showed that he had trouble commanding and controlling his pitches. His big breakout came in 2010, when he put up a 2.11 ERA, 2.19 FIP, 11.4 K/9, and 4.91 K/BB over 85.1 inning split between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. This again pushed him into top-5 status for Yankees prospects and he became part of a prospect trio known as the Killer B's, along with Manny Banuelos and Andrew Brackman. Now Brackman is gone and Banuelos is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, leaving Betances the best bet at providing value to the Yankees in the short-term.
Since 2010, Betances's control issues have derailed his progression as a pitching prospect. Many scouts have pointed to his mechanics as the likely culprit, as he does not have a smooth, repeatable delivery. Because of this, his mechanics can fall apart, and his performance along with it. After years of trying to work through these issues and keep him a starter, the Yankees decided after six starts this year to move him to the bullpen. They wanted to see how he could do because if he doesn't make the major league team next spring, he will have to be placed on waivers and will be taken by another team.
So how did he do? In one word - amazing. After posting a 6.00 ERA as a starter in 2013, he put up a 1.35 ERA as a reliever, along with 12.5 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, and a 3.19 K/BB ratio. Dellin in the bullpen mitigates the mechanics issues, as I'd expect him to focus solely on pitching from the stretch out of the bullpen, which involves less moving parts and should help him repeat his delivery. His performance earned him two calls to New York. His first call up resulted in only one appearance on August 13 against the LA Angels. In 0.2 innings, he gave up five hits, four earned runs, a walk, and a home run. At that point, he had a 54.00 ERA, although on the bright side both of his outs were by strikeout. He got called back up when rosters expanded in September.
He made five appearances in September, and was only scored on in one appearance, when the Rays scored two against him in 0.1 innings on September 26th. His final appearance of the season was the best, pitching 2.1 perfect innings, with four strikeouts, against the Astros in the fourteen inning marathon in game 162. On the season, Dellin had terrible surface numbers for the Yankees, albeit in a very small sample size of five innings. Four of those innings were scoreless. If we assume his .615 BABIP was more bad luck than lack of skill, we see he had a 2.85 FIP. This lines up much better with his strikeout and walk rates.
He is a three-pitch pitcher, with a four-seam fastball he throws 44% of the time, a cutter he throws 18% of the time, and a knuckle-curve he throws 35% of the time. Both of his fastballs average 95.5+ mph, and his knuckle-curve averages 82 mph. His fastballs were negatively valued over those five innings, but his curveball posted a very good +2.41 runs per hundred pitches.
Next season, I expect Dellin to have a spot in the Yankees bullpen. He could quickly become one of their top bullpen arms, just given the type of stuff he brings. Or he could flame out, be demoted, picked up by another team on waivers, and join a long line of Yankees prospects who haven't lived up to their potentials. But if I were betting, I'd bet he gets at least 50 innings out of the Yankees bullpen next season.
More from Pinstriped Bible:
- Yankees Prospects: Eric Jagielo makes Baseball America's top 20 list for the New York-Penn League
- Does Eduardo Nunez have a future at third base?
- Excerpts from Brian Cashman's press conference
- The first and last milestones of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte's careers
- Yankees prospects: Pinstriped Bible's post-season Top 10 list