There were lofty expectations for Wilson Betemit. He climbed the prospect charts and sat atop the Atlanta Braves organization a couple of times.
His career wasn’t exactly what many expected, but he certainly hung around awhile. Let’s take a look back at his career.
Wilson Betemit, the two-time Braves top prospect
Betemit was signed by the Braves out of the Dominican Republic at the young age of 14. While that not only sounds unbelievable, it was also against Major League Baseball’s rule book, as international free agents had to be 16. Still, the information came to light much later, and Betemit began his professional career as a 15-year-old in the Gulf Coast League.
The switch-hitting shortstop spent his first two years in the GCL before breaking out in Danville as a 17-year-old. He earned All-Star honors slashing .320/.383/.463 with 18 doubles and five home runs. Baseball America took notice, and entering the 2000 he cracked the top-100 prospects in baseball, coming in at No. 99.
Another strong season in the New York-Penn League in 2000 saw Betemit jump 70 spots, now the No. 29 prospect in baseball and ranked No. 1 overall in the Braves system for the 2001 season.
And what a year that 2001 season was. After a modest showing to start the year in Myrtle Beach, the 19-year-old tore up Double-A, slashing .355/.394/514 in 47 games. He even earned his first call to The Show, albeit didn’t register a hit in his first eight games. He was the youngest player to play in MLB that season.
He entered the 2002 season once again the top prospect in the Braves system and now the No. 8 overall prospect in the game. He wouldn’t return to the big leagues for two years.
Betemit’s return to the big leagues
Betemit was blocked at the shortstop position by the 2000 National League Rookie of the Year Rafael Furcal (Prospect Retrospect coming soon) so he shifted and started to play some third base. Of course, having a future Hall of Famer in Chipper Jones manning the hot corner didn’t make things much easier.
Now 22, Betemit returned to the Braves in 2004 after three rather ho-hum seasons in Triple-A. His 22-game stint wasn’t anymore inspiring, however, 2005 was a very promising season. He hit .305 with a .794 OPS in 115 games split between third and short and came out firing in 2006. He was hitting .281 with an .842 OPS and nine home runs at the halfway point. That’s when the Braves dealt him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Willy Aybar and Danys Baez.
Betemit’s long trip around Major League Baseball was just getting started. He was dealt at the deadline the following season to the New York Yankees. A season later the Yankees dealt him to the Chicago White Sox and after just one season on the South Side, he left in free agency for the Kansas City Royals.
Got all that? Good, we still have a long way to go.
Betemit had a big season — well, by his standards at — in his 2010 Royals’ debut. He hit .297 with an .889 OPS, slugging 13 home runs and 20 double in 84 games. Naturally, the Royals dealt him at the trade deadline the following season to Detroit where he played 40 games before hitting free agency. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles for the 2012 season and was decent before being released after injuries limited him to six MLB games in 2013. Betemit signed on with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014 but never made the big-league club.
Betemit’s career in the MLB came to an unofficial end with a 50-game suspension for PEDs in 2015. He floated around the Dominican Winter and Mexican Leagues a few more seasons before hanging it up and becoming the Royals DSL affiliate’s hitting coach in 2019.
Wilson Betemit, the aftermath
Betemit didn’t come close the prospect rankings placed upon him. His four years in Atlanta ended with a .281 batting average, .774 OPS and 45 extra base hits. He finished an 11-year MLB career with a respectable .267/.332/.442 slash line and a career 104 wRC+, but never really became more than a utility player at any one stop.
From the day he signed, his story was so intriguing. Imagine playing baseball at the age of 15 amongst pros and being ranked as a top prospect in just a few short years. A man of many hats, Betemit was an enigma. When was his birthday? Was he going to hit for average or power? What position was he going to play? And how the heck do you pronounce his last name (turns out it is Betem-ee)? However you decide to pronounce it, he definitely made Betemit a known name around baseball for 11 years.
Did you hear? Thanks to you, our dear readers enjoying this series, we have our own Prospect Retrospect hub page now! Be sure to check out those prospects we have already looked at and keep up with who is yet to come below: