In the first week of the season the Detroit Tigers Low-A affiliate, the West Michigan Whitecaps came through my area and I was able to take in three games of the series, getting a good look at 18-year-old second base prospect Javier Betancourt. In the 2013 season Betancourt hit .333/.379/.441 in the Gulf Coast League with 12 walks and 14 strikeouts to go along with two home runs in 205 plate appearances.
Here is video from the games and from batting practice.
The first time I watched him taking batting practice three things jumped out immediately. He showed good bat speed and a smooth swing. The third was that there was no way he was the size he was listed at around the internet. Baseball-Reference lists him at 6′ 0″ and 182 lbs, while Milb.com lists him at 6′ 0″ and 180 lbs. After batting practice I headed up to the pressbox and picked up the West Michigan Whitecaps roster sheet. On there he was listed at 5′ 10″ and 155 lbs. and that size seemed a lot more grounded in reality. I have no clue how he wound up listed at the sizes he was listed at in the past, perhaps there was a mix up somewhere along the lines, but he was drastically smaller than he had been listed.
When it came to actual game action the second baseman showed a good swing and the same kind of bat speed he showed in batting practice. The right hander showed good plate discipline in the series despite five strikeouts in the four games without a walk. He was able to stay back on offspeed pitches, showing good pitch recognition skills, especially for his age.
Between batting practice and the game action there didn’t seem to be much power potential with Betancourt. If he can fill out a little bit, with his bat speed it wouldn’t be a surprise if he hits 10 home runs in the future, but much more than that is probably asking for a lot.
Defensively, unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see his range or arm really tested during the series. He showed a solid arm for second base, but it didn’t stand out. He never had a play to really test it out either though, so it could have been a set of circumstances that led to the showing.
Overall he looked like a solid prospect with some potential to be a hitter who can have a good batting average without much power and play a solid second base. He will need to fill out his frame some, but he won’t turn 19 until May, so there is plenty of time for him to do that over the next few years.