On Sunday, 25-year-old Yankees pitching prospect Dellin Betances threw a unique pitch that made Tampa Bay Rays hitters look silly. The pitch had a lot of life with “funky” movement. When watching this pitch, it looks like a slider mixed with a curve, or a slurve. Whatever the pitch is called, it helped Betances record another scoreless outing. Betances said, “My slider is like a slurve, I don’t know what to call it”. Betances has been considered a draft bust to most Yankee fans. However, he has had a solid spring so far, and he is looking to earn a spot in the New York bullpen this coming season.
Betances, a native of Washington Heights, Manhattan, was projected as a first round draft pick in 2006. However, he had committed to attend the University of Vanderbilt on a baseball scholarship and he demanded a signing bonus, which led to his fall on the draft boards. He was drafted in the eighth round by the New York Yankees and was given a $1 million dollar signing bonus to forgo his commitment to Vanderbilt. He used the money to buy his parents a house in New Jersey.
Betances was one of the Yankees top 10 prospects from 2006 to 2010. However, he struggled in the minors, posting a 6.44 ERA as a starting pitcher. It all changed though when the Yankees decided to shift Betances to the bullpen. In 2011, Betances finally had his breakout year with Triple-A Scranton. In September 2011, Betances made his major league debut, making two appearances that year with the big league club.
Since then, Betances has been up and down from the minors and the majors mainly due to injuries to Yankees pitchers. His pitching has also been up and down. Betances, in 2013, had an ERA over 10 with the Yankees. His struggles have mainly been due to his lack of control. His 99 mph fastball has been inconsistent. However, in 2012 Betances learned this new breaking pitch in the Arizona Fall League. He wanted to learn a new pitch because his curveball was not effective and was causing his fingers to bleed. An effective fastball is already difficult to hit, but mix that with a strong breaking ball with control, and a hitter can become defenseless especially in late game situations.
This spring Betances has struck out five, while walking two in six scoreless innings. These numbers have been produced due to this “mystery” breaking pitch. And if hitters think it’s hard to hit now, wait until he develops it more. He says he has two variations to the pitch. One version displays a looping break that allows him to get ahead of hitters while the second is the out pitch with more break. Manager Joe Girardi said, “He knows he can get people out with it”. Betances is currently on the Yankees active roster. With opening day less than a month away, Betances has a great chance to join the Yankees bullpen in 2014.