Betancourt traded to Rockies for Class A pitcher
Setup man Rafael Betancourt returned to the Indians’ bullpen just in time to become trade bait. And on Thursday, the Rockies bit.
The Indians have traded Betancourt, a fixture in their ‘pen since 2003, to the Rockies in exchange for Class A right-hander Connor Graham. It was the second swap of the summer for an Indians team that dealt Mark DeRosa to the Cardinals last month, and it could be a sign that the remaining week before the non-waiver Trade Deadline will be an active one.
The Indians held a $5.4 million option on the 34-year-old Betancourt for 2010 that they were not expected to exercise.
Graham, 23, is an Ohio product with a big body and intriguing numbers at the high-A level.
A native of Bowling Green and a Miami of Ohio alum, Graham is listed at 6-foot-7, 235 pounds and has spent all of ’09 with the Modesto Nuts of the California League. He is 7-4 with a 3.14 ERA, 87 strikeouts and 41 walks in 80 1/3 innings in 16 starts. His ERA is the sixth-best in the league, and he’s limited the opposition to a .225 average against, with just two homers allowed. He is 3-0 with a 0.59 ERA over his last three starts.
The Rockies had plucked Graham out of Miami with their fifth-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. In his first full professional season last year, he went 12-6 with a 2.26 ERA in 26 starts for Asheville in low-A ball. Following the ’08 season, Baseball America named him the 12th-best prospect in the Rockies’ organization.
Graham throws a fastball and slider and had been working on a changeup.
UPDATE: Graham is headed to Double-A Akron. Here’s Mark Shapiro: “Strike zone command is his area of development, clearly. But he's a guy who has power stuff. Pitching prospect depth is our greatest area of need."
Shapiro also said a lot of words that amount to nothing regarding the Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez rumors. He kept with the club's policy of not directly commenting on individual players.
Betancourt handled the news well, but he was obviously sad to be leaving. "All these years, to be able to pitch here, was very good," he said. "You see a lot of relievers go around a lot. To be here seven years makes me proud."
Finally, thanks to the reader who pointed out the inaccuracy on Graham's age. He's 23, not 24, as I had previously written.
More info on Indians.com in a bit.
UPDATE No. 2: In case you missed it, the Blue Jays designated David Dellucci for assignment today.
UPDATE No. 3: Got some use out of that new Twitter account today with the Betancourt news. If you’d like to follow along for future updates, you can find it here.