Atlanta Braves Top 10 Prospects
By Bill Ballew
1. Wilson Betemit, ss
Age: 20. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 170. Bats: B. Throws: R. Signed: Dominican Republic 1996. Signed by: Rene Francisco/Felix Francisco.
Strengths: Betemit is a natural baseball player and a budding five-tool talent whos still maturing. His body will only get stronger, which should enable him to hit for power from both sides of the plate. He hits to all fields with his line-drive stroke. He has outstanding athleticism, as evidenced by the Ozzie Smith-style flip he sometimes makes when taking the field. Betemit also has slightly above-average speed that should allow him to steal 15 bases a year. Defensively, he has good range, a strong arm and soft hands. Betemit thrives on challenges and raises his game to the level of the competition.
Weaknesses: Betemit lost his focus on occasion at shortstop, leading to careless mistakes. Some scouts say he will outgrow the position, necessitating a move to third base. He might be better there because its a reaction position instead of one that requires concentration. His plate discipline is still rudimentary and may be exploited by pitchers at higher levels.
The Future: The Braves showed with Furcal in 2000 they arent afraid to let a middle infielder make a big jump to the major leagues. Should Betemit prove during spring training that hes ready to take over a starting job, Atlanta officials are willing to create room. If not, hes expected to go to Triple-A Richmond before moving up when the situation dictates. Putting Betemit at third would allow the Braves to shift Chipper Jones to left field, a position of weakness in 2001.
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