Naturals RHP Cortes dealt to Seattle Mariners

Royals new starting shortstop initially bound for Northwest Arkansas on rehab assignment

Naturals RHP Dan Cortes has been traded to the Seattle Mariners organization for SS Yuniesky Betancourt, who will report to Northwest Arkansas to continue his rehab assignment. (Tom Ewart)

By Northwest Arkansas Naturals | July 10, 2009 11:38 AM

KANSAS CITY, MO - The Kansas City Royals announced Friday that Naturals right-hander Dan Cortes is one of two minor leaguers involved in a trade with the Seattle Mariners.

The Royals have acquired shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and cash considerations from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Cortes along with Derrick Saito, another minor league pitcher.

Betancourt, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list June 25th with a strained left hamstring, had just begun an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Tacoma. The Royals announced that Betancourt will report to Northwest Arkansas to continue his rehab assignment.

His name is pronounced Yuniesky (yoon-ee-ESS-kee) Betancourt (BET-an-court).

The 27-year old Betancourt was hitting .250 (56-for-224) with 10 doubles, one triple, two home runs and 22 RBI in 63 games for the Mariners prior to his DL placement. He is a career .279 hitter with 123 doubles, 17 triples, 27 home runs and 202 RBI over five seasons with Seattle after making his debut in 2005. Since becoming the Mariners full-time shortstop in 2006, his 341 double plays rank second in all of baseball to Oakland's Orlando Cabrera (357). He has been tough to strikeout throughout his career, fanning just once every 11.86 plate appearances, the sixth-best total in baseball since 2005 (min. 2,000 at bats).

The 5-foot-10, 195-pound right handed hitter is a native of Santa Clara, Cuba, who currently resides in Boca Raton, Fla. The Mariners originally signed him as a non-drafted free agent on January 26, 2005 and then signed him to a three-year extension through 2011 with a club option for 2012 on April 4, 2007.

Cortes, the 22-year old resident of Pomona, CA, was in his second season with the Naturals and was ranked prior to the season as the Kansas City Royals' third-best prospect according to Baseball America. This season, Cortes posted a 6-6 record and a 3.92 ERA in 16 games (15 starts), striking out 57 batters and walking 50 in 80 1/3 innings of work.

Last season, Cortes was 10-4 with a 3.78 ERA en route to being named as the Royals' Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He was originally acquired with left-hander Tyler Lumsden in a trade with the Chicago White Sox that sent reliever Mike MacDougal to Chicago. The Mariners will assign Cortes to West Tennessee, their Double-A affiliate in the Southern League.

Saito, a 21-year old left-hander from Wailuku, HI, was 2-6 with a 4.15 ERA with Class-A Burlington (IA) of the Midwest League. He will report to Class-A Clinton (IA) in the same league.

The Royals did not immediately announce a corresponding transaction to fill Cortes' roster spot with Northwest Arkansas. The Naturals roster sits at 23 players, one below the Texas League limit of 24.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. The Naturals have a toll-free ticket hotline (1-877-444-2637) for fans to purchase Naturals tickets. Our website, nwanaturals.com offers fans the opportunity to purchase tickets online and avoid lines at the ticket windows by printing their tickets at home or at the office.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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