Ruben Amaro and the Phillies made two significant roster moves today.
First, the team officially released utility infielder Yuniesky Betancourt. Betancourt played last season with the Royals, but put up abysmal numbers, .228/.256/.400, in 228 plate appearances. This spring, he competed for a infield bench spot with Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen, and despite hitting extremely well, fell short of achieving that goal. Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer quoted Ruben Amaro saying,
“It was a very difficult decision, he played great for us. We had some other guys feel great, and we’re comfortable with where we are as far as those players are concerned.“
According to Gelb, the Phillies tried trading Yuniesky, but teams were not interested. Betancourt compiled 21 hits this spring, but it wasn’t enough for Amaro to include him on the Phillies. Had Betancourt made the team, the Phillies would have owed him $1.4 million, something that most likely influenced Amaro’s final decision.
In other news, the Phillies also made a trade. The team swapped minor leaguers with the Baltimore Orioles. The Phillies traded 21-year-old pitcher Julio Rodriguez, once considered a member of the “baby aces”, to the Orioles in exchange for 25-year-old minor league outfielder Ronnie Welty. Rodriguez made it as far as AA Reading last seasons, but posted a 4.23 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in 134.0 innings pitched. He moved between the starting rotation and the bullpen, starting 22 games, and coming out of the pen in 7 others.
Welty has been an outfielder in the Orioles’ Minor League system since 2008 after being drafted by the O’s in the 20th round of the 2008 draft out of a community college in Arizona. The 6 foot 4 inch 200 pound outfielder reached AA Bowie in 2011 before succumbing to an injury and found his way back to Bowie in 2012. He hit 28 home runs knocking in 106 runs in 2010 in low A and high A. In 2011 Baseball Prospectus said this about the outfielder:
“Ron Welty, a 2008 20th-rounder, has a good handle on hitting for average and can catch and throw in right field, but his good-not-great power might not be enough to carry his position.”
Neither one of these moves makes a significant impact on the club, but with a significant number of future #5 and #4 starters sitting in AAA for the Phillies, Amaro and his staff decided that adding position-player depth to the farm was more important than keeping extra pitchers around.