The Yankees drafted Dellin Betances in the 2006 draft and since then I’ve read a ton about him, and I’ve written a lot about him, but until his spring debut yesterday I’ve never gotten a chance to see him pitch in a game.
First impression, wow!
Betances faced four batters over one inning yesterday while striking out the side. He got the job done by locating a 97-mph fastball, firing in hard biting curveballs, and complementing both pitches with a very strong changeup. It’s one thing to read about a 22-year-old with amazing stuff, but it is really exciting to actually get a chance to watch him.
The thing is though, we as Yankee fans must temper our excitement over Betances.
He’ll turn 23 before the season starts which is an age where a lot of pitchers get called up, but he is just not phsically ready. He’s dealt with a decent amount of injuries in his career that has delayed his development somewhat. Because of that he has never really thrown a full 150 inning season down in the minors. Last year he only threw 85.1 innings which is not nearly enough to get him ready for the big leagues. Only 14.1 of those innings were above the Single-A level.
So he’s going to need to pitch another season in the minors. He’ll start at Double-A Trenton and if he pitches well he’ll get a midseason promotion to Triple-A. If he pitches really well it is possible he could pitch in the Bronx at some point this year, but even then he would be forced to play a small role in the bullpen because no matter what the Yankees are not going to let him go past 150 innings since his previous high is just 121 (back in 2008).
So it’s alright to be excited about Betances, but realize that he’s more of something to look forward to in 2012 than 2011.