Betances having a disastrous season in AAA

Last season Baseball America ranked Dellin Betances as the No. 43 prospect in all of baseball and after a brief September call-up it appeared he would be in the Bronx in a short time. However, he has taken a big step back in his development this year and it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll see him in Pinstripes anytime soon.

The 24-year-old Betances is huge. He’s 6-foot-8 and 255-pounds. It is a big part of why he is such a tantalizing prospect, but it is also why he has such a hard time getting his mechanics in order.

So far this season he has pitched 62.1 innings with a 8.2 K/9. Not bad except that it is his lowest K/9 that he’s put up at any level over any period of time. To make matters worse, his BB/9 of 8.1 is almost unheard of among elite prospects and is nearly double his career mark of 4.8.

The problem is in his mechanics. Here is what Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus recently wrote about Betances:

He’s never exactly been mechanically sound at any point in his career, and he’s clearly regressed this year; he has a disturbing tendency to cut off his delivery at release, which costs him balance in a delivery already sorely lacking in that department. The 24 year old just doesn’t look like a starter anymore, and unless he finds the mechanics that once made him a top prospect, he might not look like a reliever either.

Ouch. Obviously he doesn’t look much like a future starter these days, but to suggest he might not even cut it as a reliever is bad news. But that’s what happens when a prospect averages a walk an inning – unless he’s striking out twice as many it spells disaster no matter how you spin it.

What can the Yankees do with Betances? It’s hard to say. They could potentially trade him, but his value has got to be at an all-time low. I’m sure they’re working overtime with him on his mechanics, but the fact that things have gotten so bad might show that he is beyond help. The arm is there though so perhaps they give him some time off and have him totally revamp his mechanics. That could be the only way because this guy is beyond a simple move to the bullpen.

The Yankees have to do something though because the guy we saw a year ago who was getting closer and closer to the Bronx is gone. In his place is a walk machine who is just not cut out for the majors.

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5 Responses to Betances having a disastrous season in AAA

  1. mlblogsaugustine says:

    Might be time to sell high…if that phrase even applies anymore…?

  2. bottom line says:

    My guess is Yanks have meddled too much with his mechanics. Never had problems like this until this year– walked about 4.5 per nine. Let him go back to whatever he feels comfortable with. Historically, Betances has given up so few hits he can afford to walk 4.5 per 9 IP. Some guys have trouble altering merchanics but have enough talent to get by anyway.

    • We don't have any proof or reason to suggest it is something the Yankees did to him that affected his mechanics in this way. He's always had control problems and it isn't crazy to suggest that they have just gotten worse as he's moved up and the batters have gotten better.

  3. bottom line says:

    You're right in the sense that there is no proof. However, Betances' regression this year is extreme — far more extreme than can be explained by simply a jump in level. And pitchers who hold batters to cumulative sub .200 BAs do not suddenly have to start painting corners and double their walk rates. There is something more to this and I wish the beat writers or bloggers would try to get at it with some shoe leather reporting. I'm guessing Betances has adapted poorly to mechanical changes — but it could be something else. I'd say even the broken fignernail would be a more likely explanation than simply a level jump.