You don't have to watch Scranton/Wilkes-Barre right-hander Dellin Betances
throw many pitches to realize the 24-year-old is extremely talented.
His fastball crackles with life, sitting in the mid-90s and occasionally moving faster. He has a powerful curveball that has good movement and his changeup has the capacity to keep hitters off-balance.
So how to you explain a 2-3 record and 5.40 ERA in his first eight International League starts?
One reason is that the Brooklyn native is getting his first extended look at Triple-A hitters after making only four starts for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season.
"Triple-A hitters are more patient; they don't swing at bad pitches," Betances said. "It's a matter of being consistent. If you're consistent with your pitches, there isn't anybody you can't get out.
"That's something I'm working on with [pitching coach Scott Aldred]. My side [sessions] have been better, but now I have to take it out into a game."
Betances' last two starts are an example of his inconsistency. The 6-foot-8, 260-pounder limited Columbus to two hits and two walks while fanning seven over eight innings of one-run ball on May 9. Five days later, Betances surrendered five hits and six walks that turned into three runs in 3 2/3 innings in a loss at Toledo.
"I was working slow and I felt better [against Columbus]," he said. "After I gave up a home run [against Toledo], I started trying to do too much. That was messing me up.
"I was pulling away with the ball. My head wasn't in line towards home plate, and I think those things messed me up."
Aldred said he is working with Betances on some minor mechanical changes to his delivery.
"He's working on some things, trying to build up his legs under him a little more during his delivery to see if we can maybe shorten his stride a little bit," Aldred said. "We think that will help him stay under control a little bit better. He tends to get a little out of control and overthrow -- like most young, inexperienced guys."
While Betances has struggled with command, ranking among the league leaders with 35 walks in 40 innings, Aldred said he has the stuff to compete in the Major Leagues.
"His raw stuff is really good," Aldred said. "The velocity is there. He has a really good curveball and a really good changeup. We just have to harness it within the strike zone."
Opponents are hitting .233 against Betances, who's recorded 35 strikeouts and has a 1.75 WHIP. He said he hasn't lost confidence in his ability to get hitters out.
"I think the mechanical is the bigger issue," he said. "I feel good in my side [sessions], it's just a matter of taking it out into the game.
"We've got a lot of time left [in the season] and I'm feeling good. I'm sure I'll get it going, I just need to be consistent in a couple of starts, and if I do that, I feel I could take off."
May Day: Toledo's Justin Henry entered May with a .233 batting average in 16 games. But he went 4-for-5 on May 1 and hasn't stopped hitting, going 29-for-70 (.414) in his first 20 games this month to raise his average to a league-leading .345. Henry also has dramatically improved his on-base percentage, which stood at .306 at the end of April but is .513 in May. His season mark of .438 is fourth in the IL.
Kick it: Norfolk LHP Rick Zagone has allowed five hits and a walk in 11 1/3 scoreless innings since his promotion from Class A Advanced Frederick. But that isn't nearly as impressive as the high leg kick that he uses in his pitching motion. The kick makes Zagone resemble a left-handed Juan Marichal. "I've had that leg kick since high school," Zagone told The Virginian-Pilot. "[Fellow Orioles pitching prospect] Eddie Gamboa is always telling me to kick the roof of the dugout." Can Zagone actually do that? "Yes," he said. "But the roof of the dugout's only about 7 feet tall."
No-go vs. Jo-Jo: LHP Jo-Jo Reyes struggled in his season debut for Indianapolis, retiring one batter and giving up a hit and a walk that turned into two earned runs on April 9. But he moved into the rotation and has dominated IL hitters, going 5-1 with a 1.69 ERA in seven starts. Reyes has allowed 41 hits and seven walks while fanning 33 over 42 2/3 innings as a starter. His lone loss came May 17 at Lehigh Valley, where he gave up one run over seven innings in a 1-0 setback.
Turning the tables: When Indianapolis and Lehigh Valley met from May 7-10 at Victory Field, the IronPigs were shut out twice and lost three of four games. When the teams met in Lehigh Valley from May 15-18, the IronPigs won all four games -- and threw four shutouts along the way. Lehigh Valley won twice by scores of 1-0.
He said it: "I told [Liam] Hendriks I'd never see two Australian pitchers in the same game. He said, 'It happens all the time in Australia.'" -- Rochester manager Gene Glynn to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on May 17. Hendriks pitched the first eight innings and fellow Aussie Brendan Wise pitched the ninth in the Red Wings' 5-3 win over Louisville.