Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dellin Betances Back on the Mound, Turning Heads

If you're looking for the best pitching prospects in the Yankee farm system this year, High-A Tampa would be the best place to start. Already boasting one promotion to Double-A with the recent call up of Hector Noesi to Trenton, Tampa is the home for a number of legitimate starter prospects. The rotation includes Adam Warren (6-4, 2.44 ERA, picked to start the FSL All Star Game); Graham Stoneburner (4-2, 2.25 ERA, a recent promotion from Charleston); Andrew Brackman (5-0, 2.11 ERA in last 7 games); and lets not forget potentially the best of them all, Manny Banuelos who has not pitched this year due to an appendectomy.

Recently joining this group of pitching prospects is Dellin Betances, a top pitching prospect who just came back from ligament reinforcement surgery performed on his elbow a year ago. A home grown talent, Betances was selected out of Grand Street Campus High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. in the eighth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. He had elbow problems in 2007 pitching only 25 innings, and then again in 2009 with Tampa when he was shut down for surgery. His best year was 2008 in Charleston, when he was 9-4 with a 3.67 ERA. He ranked second that year amongst all Yankee minor league pitchers with 141 strikeouts and was ranked by Baseball America as the fifth-best prospect in the Yankees' organization.

Now that he has rejoined Tampa, the 6-foot-8 Betances and fellow top pitching prospect, 6-foot-10 Andrew Brackman, form what they are calling the "Twin Towers" because of their size and potential according to Rob Abruzzese of the Bronx Baseball Daily. When the Yankees drafted these two, they had very high hopes for each and were expecting that they would move through the farm system quickly. Instead due to control problems and inconsistency by Brackman, and injuries to Betances, that progression has been a lot slower than expected.

Lately, Brackman has been very good, and in his first 2 appearances so far, Betances has earned a 1-0 record and 0.71 ERA. He has pitched 12 innings, striking out 13 and walking only 1. I am impressed the most with the number of walks given the long layoff due to injury. He has looked sharp so far and has always had great stuff. Reports that he was throwing at 95 MPH and topped at 97 MPH since returning, add to the indications that he is fully recovered. It's way too early to tell if he is ready to turn his career around but he appears to be on his way back from injury and possibly headed back towards the top of the pitching prospect list.

If Brackman and Betances continue their improvement and stay healthy, the Yankees could have regained two top pitching prospects which just a short while ago they were thinking of giving up on.

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