Minor League ST Notes: Yankees vs. Phillies

Kiley covers minor league spring training with the AA & AAA squads of the Phillies & Yankees. Dellin Betances & Jon Pettibone started, Phillies catching prospect Tommy Joseph played and a little known reliever hit 96 mph.

- Yankees 6'8, 260–pound righty Dellin Betances has the issues you would expect someone of his size to have repeating his delivery. I've seen him every year since he was drafted and it seems like there's a tweak to his delivery, approach or arsenal every time I see him. He was sitting 91-93, hitting 94 with a lively cutter he located well to his glove side. Betances' slider was average at best and had soft three-quarter break. The issues came when he tried to throw his 82-84 mph slider or locate anything to his arm side. Betances used to throw a plus downer curveball early in his career, when he was more of a long, loose athlete. Now that's filled out, lost some athleticism and has much more trouble repeating his delivery, his arm tends to lag behind his body which makes it impossible to get snap or consistent location from a breaking ball. To that end, he's now throwing a lower-maintenance slider, but his release point and timing are still varying and he's clearly still tweaking his delivery to make it work for his unique circumstances. If the Yankees can ever help Betances figure out his mechanics in a way that he can consistently repeat them enough to be around the zone, he could be a useful middle reliever. His cutter is above average, his slider is usable and he threw an 84-86 mph hard changeup that flashed above average potential with consistent fastball arm speed and late bottom.

- Phillies righty Jon Pettibone faced off against Betances and is his opposite in a lot of ways. Pettibone is a big guy in his own right at 6'5, 225 pounds but is a better athlete that gets the most out of his lower upside. He sat 90-92 and hit 93 with an above average cutter that he located well to both sides. Pettibone backed it up with an 83-86 mph slider that was above average at times with long, lateral break with a little depth. The bite was inconsistent at times and can be a fringy slider-type pitch but I think in mid-season he'll have to above average pitches with cutting action and location. Pettibone didn't throw it much in the game but threw a changeup in warm-ups with late sinking and fading action that should be at least solid-average in games. The upside isn't exciting but Pettibone has number four starter upside and could get there as soon as late this season if the questionable back-end of the Phils rotation falls apart.

- Phillies righty Colton Murray has almost no hype despite a solid showing in the Cape Cod League before his draft year as reliever from Kansas. He signed for $45,000 as a 14th rounder in the 2011 draft, a respectable short-season debut after the draft and another good run through both A-ball levels in 2012. Murray should start the year in AA and showed the stuff yesterday that could make him a big league option later in 2013 if the need arises. Murray sat 92-95 and hit 96 mph in his inning stint with an above average to plus power curveball at 81-82 mph. Murray has a clean arm, good arm timing, a high three-quarters slot and an aggressive delivery without much effort. The concern is that Murray is a smaller a 6'0, 195 pound righty with a drop and drive delivery and a pretty straight fastball. The lack of plane and life on his heater means he has little margin for error in the big leagues and will be a fringy middle reliever if he loses any command or stuff. He tried a two-seamer and cutter at 88-91 that didn't do much for him, but the power fastball-curve combo could make him an early setup option as early as late 2013.

- Phillies catcher Tommy Joseph is a polished catching prospect his average to slightly above potential offensively and defensively. He should be in AAA this season and doesn't seem quite ready to step in for the suspended Carlos Ruiz early in the season, but could be an option to open 2014. Average offensively refers to relative to the catching position, which is a low bar to clear. Joseph has a thick, 6'1, 220-pound frame and loads his hands high and deep to maximize his plus raw power. He's strong but doesn't have loud bat speed and can be fooled by good off-speed stuff. He's a fastball type hitter that should see his fair share in the bottom half of a big league lineup. Defensively, he has the tools to stick behind home with good hands, good enough quickness and some feel for the position. His above average to plus arm makes up for a lack of quickness.

- Phillies reliever Justin DeFratus is a big righty that gets results with three pitches that are average to above: an 89-93 mph fastball that hits 94, an 83-85 changeup and an 82-84 mph slider. He had elbow problems in 2012 and his crossfire delivery doesn't do his command and favors, but he's got a chance to be a middle reliever or longman in short order with a chance for a little more.

- Phillies righty reliever J.C. Ramirez has always had big stuff and not quite the results and looked about as you'd expect with a plus fastball working 92-94 and two fringy offspeed pitches in a high 80's splitter and 83-84 slider that was solid-average when it was right.

- Phillies third baseman Cody Asche looks about the same to me as he did last year: a decent athlete and solid contact-oriented lefty bat without the power to profile everyday but enough bat to find his way into lineups….Graham Stoneburner worked 90-92 and Ben Paullus worked 89-92 touching 93 in short looks…the pitchers charting next to me called a Cody Johnson homer off DeFratus and were raving about his performance so far this spring. That said, Johnson is a stiffer org power bat type 1B that was a former first round pick by the Braves out of high school.

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