New York Yankees
There may not have been anyone who had as stirring and suprisingly effective pro debut than Dellin Betances
did in 2006. The tall right-handed pitcher was seen as a major project coming out of the New York City high school ranks. The Yankees took a shot, selecting him in the eighth round and giving him close to first-round money. They sent him to the Gulf Coast League to get his feet wet, with the understanding that, at 6-foot-7 and relatively inexperienced, much tinkering would need to happen.
Then Betances put up a 1.16 ERA over 23 1/3 IP, allowing just 14 hits and seven walks while striking out 27. The league hit just .173 against him, and his command was much better than advertised as he proved adept at making quick adjustments. There was talk he'd be ready for a full-season assignment to start the 2007 season at age 19.
It didn't quite happen that way. Betances didn't make his 2007 debut until the Short-Season New York-Penn League got underway, and he made just six starts before being shut down in the middle of July. The reason was forearm tightness, and the Yankees understandably were cautious. Tightness in your forearm isn't necessarily a horrendous thing on its own, but it can be a bad sign of future problems. "It sometimes is a precursor for elbow trouble," explained Yankees senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman. "But he had an MRI, and there was no structural damage."
After that sigh of relief, the Yankees sent Betances to instructs to make up for lost time. He hasn't skipped a beat and is throwing just as well as he did before he had arm troubles.
"He's fine, he's throwing 95-96 mph with that big downhill plane, spinning the ball well," Newman said.
Newman pointed out a couple of other players creating some buzz in instructs this fall. Brandon Laird
has been flying under the radar even though his brother is Rangers catcher Gerald Laird. The 27th-round draft choice out of Cypress Junior College in California, Laird hit .339 and slugged .577 in 45 GCL games in his summer debut. The third baseman has continued to shine at instructs.
"He continues to be big-time impressive," Newman said. "He's the kind of kid coaches are talking about."
Also along family tree lines, second-round pick Austin Romine
has shown what being in a baseball family is all about. His older brother Andrew was the shortstop for Arizona State before being drafted in the fifth round by the Angels and his father, Kevin, spent seven seasons in the big leagues. The high school catcher has plus arm strength behind the plate and a pretty good idea about what to do when he's at it with a bat in his hands.
"He comes from a baseball family and it really shows," Newman said. "He's pretty advanced. He's doing things high school kids normally can't do."
One more under-the-radar guy to remember: infielder Carmen Angelini
. The Yankees took him in the 10th round and gave him a nice chunk of change to keep him from going to Rice University. He really didn't play after signing, so the Yankees are getting their first long look at him at instructs. And they like what they see.
"He's a plus runner, he really can defend, and he puts the ball in play," Newman said. "He needs to get stronger and he will because he's got a good frame. He kind of flew under the radar but our Midwest scouting supervisor, Tim Kelly, fell in love with the guy.