TRENTON - Dellin Betances is pitching for a professional baseball team in the tri-state area. It's just not the path or place he envisioned.
After making two appearances with the Yankees last September, Betances, one of the organization's top prospects, hoped a roster spot in the Bronx wasn't too far off. But the 6-8, 260-pound righthander -- he's from Washington Heights and went to Grand Street Campus High School in Brooklyn -- struggled with Triple-A Scranton / Wilkes-Barre and was demoted to Double-A Trenton in late June.
Betances, in his seventh professional season after being selected in the eighth round of the 2006 draft, was ranked 63rd on Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list this past winter. But in 16 Triple-A starts, the 24-year-old went 3-5 with a 6.39 ERA and 1.88 WHIP. He struck out 71 but walked 69 in 742/3 innings.
"You never want to go down," Betances said, "but at the same time, we all agreed why I was coming down here. It was just a matter of cutting down the walks and being more consistent. I feel I have been doing a good job at it down here."
In seven games with Trenton, including six starts, Betances is 2-1 with a 4.31 ERA. In his last start Thursday against Altoona, he allowed three earned runs, six hits and four walks in five innings, striking out two. He threw 93 pitches, 53 for strikes. In his previous outing, he pitched the final seven innings in relief and allowed four runs (one earned), six hits and three walks, striking out seven.
"He's done a great job," Trenton manager Tony Franklin said. "He's come down to work on a couple of things. The biggest thing is to solidify his delivery. I don't think it has anything to do with his stuff. Once he slows down his delivery and keeps his rhythm, he's pretty darn good. I am pretty pleased with where he is right now."
The biggest thing Betances is aiming to improve is his control. He often throws his fastball in the mid-90s, but it's about throwing strikes consistently, something he has done more since moving to Double-A. In 392/3 innings with Trenton, he has allowed 45 hits, walked 18 and struck out 38.
"I feel like I am throwing all my pitches more for strikes," Betances said. "Everything is down in the zone. My release point is more consistent. I am able to cut down the walks and get ahead of guys. That has allowed me to keep my walks down."
One thing Betances hasn't lost is his confidence. He hopes the move to Trenton gets him back on track and gives him another shot at pitching in the majors.
"It's a new beginning," Betances said. "I am trying to relax a little bit and enjoy the game a little more. To get a chance to wear the pinstripes and share the field with guys like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera was an honor for me. Now it's just a matter of trying to get back up there.
"We have the month of August left. I feel five of my first six starts have been good. The big thing for me is being consistent and I have done a better job of that. Sometimes it's not how you start but how you finish. That's the way I am looking at things."