The Braves don’t seem to think Betemit can play shortstop everyday, and there’s no spot for him at third base in the near future. Even if Marte’s departure clears one hurdle, unless Chipper goes down or moves very quickly, the presence of Eric Campbell and two young shortstops among the Braves’ top ten prospects means he’ll soon have other obstacles. It’s hard to see Betemit getting out of a utility role with the Braves; his best opportunity would be to get traded to a team with a weak third base situation. Though he’s a switch-hitter, he has some similarity to Vinny Castilla, circa 1992; a player who doubtless has the bat to be a useful shortstop or even third baseman, blocked by incumbents and rising stars. There’s no expansion draft to liberate Betemit, so he has to hope for a trade. Considering the poor pickings in the upper reaches of the minor leagues, that is unlikely for now. He should be the regular backup shortstop and third baseman in 2005, which judging by Chipper’s injury history in recent years should garner him at least 40 starts/200 PA.
His 2005 line of .305/.359/.435 is pretty much what you would expect granted his 2003-04 minor league numbers. Actually, his batting average was probably higher than projected, his walks and power a little lower to offset it. I don’t expect him to hit .305 on a regular basis, but he’s capable of drawing more walks and turning doubles and triples into home runs to offset that.
As a shortstop, he’s a middling defender, ranging from B-minus to D-plus. Fielding percentage was slightly below the league, range factor (adjusted for innings) right on the average. Didn’t play as well at third base, but should be a pretty good defender there. At either position, he’s not a plus unless he hits. Like some others of the young Braves, a poor basestealer even though he runs pretty well, and tied Giles for second on the team with four triples despite less than half a full season’s plate appearances.