Betances Figuring Out What He Is

Betances is looking to cut down on the walks

CHARLESTON, SC - Possessing great stuff, Dellin Betances has gotten off to a very good start so far in 2008, leading his league in strikeouts and currently ranking fourth in all of minor league baseball in the same category. But with walks coming a bit too frequently, he's just starting to figure out what kind of pitcher he is, and what kind of pitcher he will become.

As the Charleston Riverdogs sit comfortably atop the South Atlantic League, possessing one of the best records in professional baseball at 19-5, one can stare at the alarmingly deep lineup and pick and choose from the monster bats on the team. But anyone familiar with the sport of baseball knows a team only goes as far as its pitching takes them.

Dellin Betances, one of Charleston's aces, is known for his raw power and potential. He currently leads the SAL in strikeouts with 35, but since being drafted by the Yankees in 2006, he has been working with the team on his secondary pitches, as well as shoring up some issues in his mechanics.

During the offseason and on into Spring Training, Betances was working on controlling his head-tilt as well as getting his offspeed pitches in the same arm slot as his fastball.

"I was working on keeping my head straight," said Betances, "commanding all my pitches for strikes, and trying to get my arm slot at three-quarters, but so far everything has been good, just the command hasn't been there yet."

Manager Torre Tyson seems very confident that Betances' secondary pitches are quickly coming around, seeing progress each and every game.

"I've been impressed each start with a different pitch," noted Tyson. "Like [Thursday] night [a 5-3 victory over Columbus in which Betances went six innings, giving up two hits, walking two, and striking out seven] was probably the best changeup he's shown this season, whereas the first start in Rome, his curveball was just devastating.

"I liken him back to when I had [Phil] Hughes here four years ago. Hughes had a better idea of where to locate his fastball but Dellin is actually ahead of him in terms of where he was with his secondary pitches."

The early season walks have been a concern in Betances' starts but he feels that less walks should be the result of the offspeed pitches coming around. Commanding the changeup and curveball in the strike zone should bring those numbers down.

""I just felt like I wasn't commanding the offspeed as well," Betances said when speaking of his earlier starts. "But [Thursda] I felt that they were okay."

Manager Torre Tyson agrees that his command of these pitches will right themselves, but that the young player's maturation will aid in the process of making him a well-rounded pitcher.

""I think that's part of the maturation process for him," added Tyson. "He's got to understand mechanically and mentally what is making him get up in the zone and not finish his pitches.

"Anytime you've got strikeout totals like him, you're going to have a couple extra walks, so you take the good with the bad."

What can't be taken away from Betances is his electric arm and blistering fastball that has aided him in his great start in Charleston this season with a 3-0 record.

But no amount of pride can overshadow Betances' talent on the mound. The ever-humble Betances sees this early season as a work in progress.

"Well I have a great defense behind me, [Pitching Coach] Jeff Ware has been working me a lot," said Betances. "I've been keeping my head straight as well as my delivery angle, commanding my pitches alright and my fastball has been good. I feel healthy so far and that's the most important thing."

Tyson would like to see some of Betances' emotion come to the forefront, seeing his potential as a devastating and fear-evoking player.

"As far as composure goes, I've seen some fiery, competitive stuff out of him at times and I'd like to see it a little bit more often. He's the type of guy that could end up intimidating guys on the mound if he showed a little bit more of that. He's just going to have to figure out what kind of pitcher he is."

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