You know, as I look deeper, Betemit still looks like a pretty good prospect. The first thing to remember is that Betemit is actually sixteen months younger than his listed age; the Braves signed him at fifteen. Those numbers look a lot better with a seasonal age of 20 than one of 22.
The second thing is that the Braves overpromoted him. He had a good but not overwhelming year in 2001, including 47 strong games in Greenville. But at the time he had just one season worth of advanced (high-A and AA) baseball, and was only 20 years old. But the Braves thought he was on the fast track, and promoted him to Richmond, where he flamed out. He repeated the level (still only 21) and wasn’t much better, and basically everyone gave up on him. (I wonder if the Betemit experience helps explain the kid gloves treatment Andy Marte has thus far received.)
But last year, he was still young for the level and hit a more than solid .278/.336/.466. That’s good enough — actually, close to what Furcal hit in the majors but with a little more power — that if he could really play shortstop he’d be in good shape for a long major league career. Can he really play shortstop? Ah, there’s the rub. It appears he can’t, and as a third baseman he’ll either have to hit for a higher average or for more power to be a contributor. Plus, there’s no place for a third baseman in the Braves’ plans.
Betemit is out of options now, and the Braves will have to either keep him on the major league roster or cut bait. Right now, he’s the closest thing to a backup shortstop they have, and will likely make the team as a utility infielder. His first fifty major league ABs have been pretty disastrous — last season he hit .170 with no extra-base hits — but he was good enough in AAA to make me think he can contribute. He’s a good athlete who can run a little but doesn’t have great speed, and his offense is basically power-based, so he doesn’t fit the mold of a classic utility infielder, but a switch-hitter with power is a nice thing to have on the bench. If he’s really good in spring, though, I think the Braves will shop him.
Wilson Betemit – MLB Minor League Statistics – Baseball Cube
How bad is Betemit at short? I read your post just after looking at Dave Pinto’s Probabilistic Model of Range for SS for 2004. It struck me that this measure shows Furcal to have been one of the very worst in the majors last year. Is Betemit totally incapable of playing short? Is he much less capable than Furcal?
I hope it isn’t just wishful thinking, but if Betemit figures it out this year he could find a job if (when) Furcal leaves after this year. Unfortunately, I don’t see how he’ll develop much in a backup role.
The perception is that he’s lost there. I can’t say myself. Brad might have a better idea, or Flo or someone else on the boards. As for Furcal, if he really had defensive problems in 2004 (I don’t see it myself) it might have been due to having different players around him all the time.
Good write-up Mac. I hadn’t considered the age change stuff when evaluating him. If Beltre is for real, we can’t forget how long it took for him to explode. I’m still skeptical that he will be good, but I’ve been too skeptical.
Hmmm. Just when I am thinking that Betemit really sucks and should be cut you present evidence to the contrary. When I watched him play he looked lost at the plate. Couldn’t hit anything with a break with an ironing board. In the field though he looked smooth and athletic. I can see why at one time he was considered our number 1 prospect. He just looks good, statistical evidence to the contrary.
In the brief outings he had at SS, I thought he looked fairly smooth and athletic. I recall a couple of nice plays in the Cal Ripken mold (Cal as extra large SS, not Cal as Ironman), but the success rate of tall SSs (over 6 feet) is fairly low. I can only think A-Rod, Jeter (statheads, have your fun), Ripken, Belanger, and Roy Smalley, as tall SSs who could really play the position. I know a thorough scrubbing of the database would net a few more, but SS seems to have become the position of choice for the vertically-impaired. Betemit seems to have outgrown the spot, but I think he could back up there with no problem.
As for the bat, he looks to have big, big holes. Maybe there is something in the water, but like Andruw, he seems to like to dive at the 59-and-a-half footer.
With the age considerations, I think the Braves have to find a place for him, as I think his trade value is way too low right now to net much of anything. I would guess we are going to see a battle royal between Betemit and Green for the primary back-up IF spot and if Betemit loses that, he’ll have to battle Roosevelt Brown for the LH pinch-hitting slot.
By the way, if Roosevelt makes the 25-man roster, will he get to negotiate a “new deal?”
Oh, I forgot to mention. The Braves’ handling of Betemit should go down as a classic example of how “not” to handle a player. I think the Braves got heady with the rapid promotion of guys like Andruw and Furcal and thought “what the heck” with Betemit. Just goes to show that one size doesn’t fit all. It also makes me think (given his continuing problems with certain kinds of pitches) that Andruw could have benefitted a bit from a more deliberate advancement through the system.
Let’s not forget how bac he was in the Winter League before calling him still a good prospect —
.209/.329/.358 (14-for-67), 2 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 12 BB, 23 SO
He needs another year in the minors, but he’s not going to get it.
It’s 67 AB, BC. I wouldn’t read too much into that. Plus his walk rate was good and his power okay. I agree I’d like him to have another year in the minors, but that won’t happen.
What’s the chance of signing him to a new deal to have him be able to play in the minors again this year?
Warefreak, before the Braves can do that, they would have to expose the player to waivers. Any other team could select him while paying us a virtual pittance. If he passed through waivers, we could put him back in the minors, but I don’t see that happening.
I agree. A ton of teams would pick him up if he went to waivers. D’oh