Sunday, August 28, 2005

Yuniesky Betancourt Report

Yuniesky Betancourt, SS, Seattle Mariners
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 2005, Cuba
Bats R/Throws R
23 YO, 5'10", 190 lbs

Betancourt was a high profile signing by the Mariners, who feel he can be an excellent player on offense and defense. The Mariners love his defense at short and see him as a Gold Glove waiting to happen. I have no evidence to refute their confidence in that part of his game.

2005 San Antonio: .273/.301/.410, 10 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 9 BB, 18 K, 12 SB, 7 CS, 227 AB
2005 Tacoma: .295/.323/.443, 9 2B, 6 3B, 2 HR, 6 BB, 14 K, 7 SB, 5 CS, 183 AB
ml Career: .283/.311/.424, 19 2B, 9 3B, 7 HR, 15 BB, 32 K, 19 SB, 12 CS, 410 AB
2005 Seattle: .239/.255/.326, 4 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 1 BB, 12 K, 0 SB, 1 CS, 92 AB

Some general observations here. First off, what do you call a player who is on San Antonio's roster? Is he a Mission? Missionary? I really have no idea.

Seattle's original plan was to leave him in San Antonio for the whole season, but his play there convinced them that he was ready for higher levels. I'm not so sure. It's nice that he held his own in AA right out of the box. And San Antonio isn't the best place to hit in the Texas League, but he wasn't exactly tearing it up. .273/.301/.410 looks more like Rey Sanchez than somebody who deserves to be rewarded with a promotion. The sample size is too small to draw a firm conclusion from, but that Major League line doesn't look like a complete fluke to me. He's completely overmatched at this point.

He's raw. He's really raw. He needs work on the plate discipline. He needs some work on hitting the ball with power, which is a skill his backers claim he should be able to develop. He needs to stop trying to steal bases until he's able to read pitchers and get good jumps. That percentage is unacceptable.

I'm still very skeptical of Cuban birthdays. What proof do I need? I need a videotape of his birth with the doctor holding that day's New York Times with R Kelly's grandmother doing play-by-play, followed by a montage of pictures of him growing up, one picture per month for every month from birth to the day he signed a contract with the M's.

The M's really should let him start in Tacoma next season because he really has no business being on a ML roster at this point. He is ticketed to play in the Arizona Fall League. Getting the reps will help, but I worry that the M's and their fans will develop irrational expectations for him due to the offense-friendly atmosphere.

When looking at the possibilities of what he could become, the upside is probably Omar Visquel. The downside is Neifi Perez with a batter glove. If you're looking for a midpoint, I'd probably point to the Izturis brothers. There's enough here to give some hope of good things happening, but enough warning signs to make it a risky proposition.

ETA: Ready or not, he's arrived
2 1/2 Stars



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