Yuniesky Betancourt/Utility Infielder
Bats: RÂ Â Â Â Â Throws: R
Height: 5â€™11Â Â Â Â Weight: 210 lb.
Born: 1/31/82 (30), Santa Clara, Villa Clara, Cuba
Drafted: N/A.Â Signed as an amateur free agent in 2005 by the Seattle Mariners.
Question:Â How did Yuniesky Betancourt make it to MLB?
Answer:Â After playing for a while in the Cuban baseball leagues, Betancourt hopped aboard a speedboat in December, 2003, and somehow made it to Mexico.Â Betancourt caught the attention of the Mariners scouts while playing in the Mexican League, and was ultimately signed by the Mariners as an amateur free agent in 2005.
2005 was the only season Betancourt had in the minors.Â It wasnâ€™t even a full minor league season because the Mariners called him up to the big league club in late July, 2005.
Fast-forward to 2009.Â Betancourt was traded about halfway through the 2009 season to the Kansas City Royals, in exchange for pitching prospects Dan Cortes and Derrick Saito.
Betancourt played the next year and a half for the Royals, but following the 2010 season he was on the move again.Â This time he was part of a blockbuster trade that sent him along with Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for shortstop Alcides Escobar and prospects Jake Odorizzi (RHP), Jeremy Jeffress (RHP), and Lorenzo Cain (OF).
As it turns out, his stay in Milwaukee was brief.Â Following the 2011 season, Betancourt was granted free agency. In a puzzling move, Royals General Manager Dayton Moore signed Betancourt to a 1 year, $2 million contract.
It should be noted that early in Betancourtâ€™s career with the Seattle Mariners, he was regarded as one of the best shortstop defenders in the game.Â Unfortunately, that label was short lived, and his play rapidly declined in terms of range and fielding/throwing proficiency.Â To make matters worse, in 2009 statistics revealed that Betancourt was the worst regular duty offensive player (.274 OBP/.351 SLG %).
2012 Outlook:Â It is no secret that Yuniesky Betancourt was the furthest thing from a fan favorite during his previous stint with the Royals.Â When he was traded to the Brewers, jubilation could be heard from Village West, Kansas City, KS to the east side of Kansas City, MO.Â This may surprise people, but I actually donâ€™t mind this signing.Â Betancourt is no longer a starter, and will be used to spell the young Alcides Escobar from time to time at shortstop.Â Heâ€™ll also be used to platoon with Mike Moustakas at 3b, and heâ€™ll probably also log some time at 2b.Â The Royals were in desperate need of a utility player, and they made a sound decision to sign someone they were comfortable with.Â I know some are up in arms because heâ€™s never played 3b, but the transition from shortstop to third will probably actually work out better for Betancourt.Â Now, what can Betancourt possibly provide the Royals?Â If used correctly, Betancourt will only see the field when facing left-handed pitchers.Â Heâ€™s not a particularly good hitter, but has shown throughout his career an ability to hit lefties with some moderate success and even a little pop.Â As long as the Royals never have to depend on him as starter in any capacity for an extended period of time, I donâ€™t think Betancourtâ€™s presence will hurt the Royals very little, if at all.