Weight: 170 lb.
Birthday: August 5, 1991 (Age 20)
Birthplace: La Mesa, CA
High School: Steele Canyon HS, Spring Valley, CA
Acquired: Drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 12th round of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft
Bellatti has seemingly put off-field issues behind him and had a very solid season for Short-Season A Hudson Valley in 2011. The right-hander was the driver in a car crash in 2010 that killed a 50-year man and injured two others, that was caused by Bellatti driving at a high rate of speed and attempting to pass a car by crossing over a double-yellow line. Bellatti ended up pleading guilty to vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and after being sentenced to 240 days in jail and five years probation, was released early on good time credits.
Despite spending all winter in jail, Bellatti was able to participate in spring training workouts and the tragic incident did not seem to affect his on-field performance. In 15 games (13 starts) he pitched to a 2.26 ERA and struck out 63 hitters in 72 innings.
Bellatti, who was slated to attend Cal Sate-Fullerton before deciding to sign with the Rays, features a tight slider and a change-up that has the potential to be a plus pitch. His fastball is usually in the 90-91 mph range, but he also has a deceptive delivery and to this point in his brief career has shown good command (2.5 BB/9 in 3 seasons).
The California native is also very adept at keeping the ball down in the zone and he allowed just a lone home run in 2011. For his career, he has given up just 6 round-trippers in 166 innings pitched.
He was also equally effective against hitters from both sides of the plate as evidenced by his splits (.240 vs. left-handers and .259 against right-handers) in 2011.
With a solid three pitch repertoire at his disposal, as well as an athletic frame, Bellatti profiles as a power-pitcher-type who should be able to stick as a starter. The continued development of his already nasty change-up will be one of the keys for continued success as he moves up to full-season ball in 2012.
Bellatti has been the model for consistency in his young career and if he can continue to pitch the way he did in 2011 and keep his rate stats up (he also has a career 8.4 K/9) as he moves up into the higher-levels of the organization, then he will be a pitcher that will be getting a lot more attention in the coming years. Unfortunately, the 20-year-old has a possible prison sentence hanging over his head while he is on probation, and he must continue to not only to perform well on the field, but off it as well.
John Gregg is Publisher and Senior Editor of Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @RaysDigest. He can also be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.