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Chris Betts Falls In Love All Over Again

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For much of the time since being a 2015 second-round pick, catcher Chris Betts was dealing with something that held him back.

He was either recovering from surgery, rehabbing or being handled cautiously. He had Tommy John surgery right after the draft, then had bone chip removal with complications in May 2017.

In 2018, Betts got to just go out every day and play. Finally.

And the 21-year-old lefthanded hitter finished as the team MVP at short-season Hudson Valley.

"This year was the first time since I got drafted I would wake up and think I could play in the big leagues or I’m going to have a chance,’’ Betts said. "Finally to be able to control more than waking up in morning and rehabbing . . . Instead of my focus being on getting healthy, it’s getting better.’’

The success Betts had after being assigned to the New York-Penn League following a 16-game stint at low Class A Bowling Green was rewarding. He hit .248/.333/.456 with nine home runs in 56 game and appeared in the NYPL all-star game.

But just the experience of playing every day and finishing the season healthy was even more significant to him.

"Driving home after that last game of the season it was kind of like, 'Deep breath. It’s over. You did  it.’ " Betts said. "It was something that pretty much in July of every year before this I never thought I would (experience). There were times I thought that it’s never going to happen.

Betts, who was drafted out of Wilson High in Long Beach, did everything in his control to get on the field during his first three seasons, but hardly anything went his way.

"This was probably the most rewarding thing I ever had," Betts said. "I got choked up a lot after the season just thinking about it . . . It's something I never thought I’d have again, so it was fun. I didn’t realize I fell out of love with baseball until I reacquainted myself with it this year.’’

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COOL RAYS

• To create 40-man roster space ahead of the Nov. 20 reserve list deadline, the Rays traded righthander Chih-Wei Hu to the Indians for 18-year-old middle infielder Gionti Turner. Cleveland drafted Turner in the 27th round in 2018 out of high school in Pine Bluff, Ark. He hit .296/.348/.396 in 46 games in the Rookie-level Arizona League in his debut.

• Blake Snell’s Cy Young Award was a true team effort, with credit due to both the scouting department and front office. Prolific Northwest area scout Paul Kirsch recommended Snell, and the Rays signed the 2011 supplemental first-rounder away from his commitment to Washington for a reasonable $684,000. The Rays came by the pick they used to draft Snell—No. 52 overall—when they signed compensatory free agent-to-be Brad Hawpe after his release by the Rockies in August 2010.

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