Standard scouting reports from multiple publications would tell you that Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis throws three different pitches. Bettis will tell you to double that number.
That diversity is more unlikely because Bettis, Colorado's No. 4 prospect, is a former college closer who's flourishing as a Minor League starter.
In an age when relievers require only two offerings and starters typically sport at least three, Bettis places greater emphasis on how a pitcher works, not what he works with. That mind-set appeared to pay off in 2011, his first full season as a pro: The right-hander went 12-5 with a 3.34 ERA and a 184-to-45 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 169 2/3 innings spanning 27 starts. Oh, and that was in the hitter-happy California League, with Class A Advanced Modesto.
"Everything has been working out the way I have wanted it to so far. I just want to work on the pitches I have," said Bettis, who also appeared in Texas Tech's weekend rotation before becoming the 76th overall pick in the 2010 Draft. "Whether Colorado wants me to move into the bullpen or keep me as a starter, I'm on board with it. I just want to keep moving up the ladder. Whether that's in [Double-A] Tulsa, [Triple-A Colorado] Springs or wherever, it's completely up to them. Wherever they're going to stick me is where I'll pitch at and try to have success again."
Last week, MiLB.com asked Bettis to describe and grade each of the half-dozen pitches he employs. (His grade is based on a scout's traditional 20-80 scale, 50 being the Major League average.) Here is Bettis, in his own words.
Pitch one: Four-seam fastball
: It's the pitch I can always go to. I have pretty good control of it and I can put it where I want to whenever I want to.
Grip: Regular four-seam grip.
Speed: Usually 94-98 [mph].
Grade: I'd say a 70. I haven't perfected it, and that's definitely what I'm here in big league camp trying to do is to perfect the fastball and be able to command it in any count, in any situation and get guys out with it.
Pitch two: "Two-seam" fastball
: I learned it in high school. I was just messing around. My pitching coach in college, Ed Gustafson
, always told me it's OK to throw two fastballs.
Purpose: My two-seam is a little slower than my four-seam, but it moves down and in to a righty, so it's definitely effective to get ground balls and get early outs so I don't have to eat up a lot of pitches.
Grip: It's actually a no-seamer. I go off the regular two-seam grip and just slide my fingers up [to] where there's no seam; I'm just touching leather.
Speed: At the end of the season last year, I was throwing it 92-97.
Grade: I would say probably 60, 65, because I'm still trying to be more consistent with the movement.
Pitch three: Slider
: Just something I picked up growing up, watching baseball. I started to throw it more in high school, then got away from it in college, and then my pitching coach developed it into a cutter. It's slowly gotten more and more break with it. I call it a slider now, but at times I catch myself calling it a cutter. I can shorten it up and have it break less, unless I want it to break more. It's a variation of where I put my thumb on the ball.
Purpose: To right-handed hitters and lefties. Sometimes I like to start lefties off with it, let them look at it and [have them] realize that I can get under their hands with it.
Grip: It's off of, actually, my four-seam grip. If I grip my four-seam fastball, then slide the ball over a little bit onto the horseshoe, that's what I use.
Speed: Definitely a power slider. Maybe 91-95.
Grade: A 65, because I'm still playing with the consistency of the break.
Pitches four and five: Changeups
: I never really needed it in high school for some reason. It's a next-level pitch for me. I throw a two-seam changeup and a four-seam changeup, and they move differently. I learned the two-seam in college and then my four-seam changeup I actually learned this last year in Modesto from pitching coach Darryl Scott
Purpose: My two-seam changeup moves like my two-seam [fastball] but drops more, so almost like a splitter. Both changeups get [batters] off of everything else that is [thrown] hard.
Grip: The two-seam, instead of throwing the no-seam, obviously, I slide my hand down back to a two-seam grip and then just have a three-finger changeup with the base.
Speed: Both are about 84-90-ish. Sometimes, my four-seam changeup can get a little fast.
Grade: I have a better feel for my two-seam changeup, so I'd say 60. And then my four-seam, I am still working on getting consistent with the break, so I would say that's a 50, 55.
Pitch six: Curveball
: I had it in college, just because it [offered] a different plane of break from my slider and other pitches. I really started working on it when I first came into the Rockies organization. I've picked up bits and pieces from various coaches and played around with it.
Purpose: To righties mostly, where it's more of an out pitch. Maybe to lefties, just to show a strike.
Grip: Traditional curveball.
Speed: Mid- to high-80s.
Grade: Major League average, 50. I wouldn't say it's any better than that. My curveball, I would probably put last in my repertoire, just because I am still messing with it. I have a pretty good feel for it right now, but it's definitely not one of my strengths, so I am working on that.