Betances appears on the verge
TRENTON — At the beginning of last season, Dellin Betances’ career path seemed littered with roadblocks. He was coming off of ligament reinforcement surgery and, as such, his 2010 debut would be delayed.
There were, obviously, plenty of questions for the pitcher who had formerly been one of the system’s jewels:
• Would he come out of the injury with the same dynamic stuff?
• What about his control, which had already gained a reputation as less than stellar?
• Was this injury the worst it would get, or was it a sign of things to come?
This season will go a long way toward resolving that third question, but the previous two were answered loud and clear on June 10, when he made his season debut.
That day, against the Lakeland Flying Tigers, Betances went six one-run innings, allowed three hits and fanned a half dozen.
More significantly, he didn’t issue a walk. Over 11 starts in 2009, only one was walk-free.
It was a sign of progress, and a hint that he was about to re-establish himself as one of the Yankees’ premier prospects.
“When I came out of surgery, it was one of those things that (because) I knew I’m a hard worker, I knew I could get back to where I needed to be,” Betances recalled. “I feel like I put in a lot of work. I never doubted my stuff, so I knew I had a chance to be a great pitcher.”
Over the course of last season with Tampa and eventually Trenton, he did indeed develop back into a great pitcher. He finished the year 8-1 with a 2.11 ERA and an eye-popping 108 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings.
At this point, with the stuff clearly back to where it was — and the command far more advanced — it’s only a matter of regaining some stamina and refining his mechanics.
Like A.J. Burnett with the big club, Betances is working on not wrapping his left leg around his right during his windup, which changes the angle of his delivery and ultimately robs his arsenal of its effectiveness.
If he can iron that out and pitch a full workload, then perhaps the young man from Brooklyn’s Grand Street High School can begin readying himself for a career in the Bronx.
Now, just four days away from his season debut, he can smell the show in the offing. In fact, when he was cut from the major league side of spring training, the team told him they wouldn’t be surprised to see him again sometime this season.
“I feel like that’s definitely my dream, to become a New York Yankee, to be able to wear the pinstripes and help them win,” he said. “I want to stay there and have a great major league career. I feel like this year, if I do what I have to do as far as being consistent, I feel like I have a good chance of being there.”