|Kansas City Royals — No. 24|
November 2, 1981
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
|Bats: Switch||Throws: Right|
|June 26, 2001 for the Atlanta Braves|
|Runs batted in||154|
|On-base plus slugging||.756|
Wilson Betemit (pronounced Bay-tah-mee) (born November 2, 1981 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) is a 6' 3" switch-hitting Major League Baseball infielder for the Kansas City Royals organization.
Betemit is a 1996 graduate of Juan Bautista Safra High School, where he played baseball. He was signed as an undrafted free agent shortstop by the Atlanta Braves on July 28, 1996 when he was 14 and a half years old. According to Major League Baseball's age restrictions regarding the signing of minors, teams are not allowed to sign anyone under the age of sixteen. Because of this rule violation, the Braves were fined $100,000 and prohibited from scouting and signing players from the Dominican Republic for six months in 2000.
Betemit started 2001 with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in Advanced-A ball (hitting the first inside-the-park home run in Pelicans history on June 11), and was promoted mid-season to the Greenville Braves in AA. He hit .355 with Greenville, and was named the Braves top prospect for the second year in a row. He was also the Braves Minor League Player of the Year, the Florida State League All-Star shortstop, and the Baseball America 2nd team minor league all-star shortstop.
Called up to the Braves in September, he made his major league debut on September 18, 2001, as a pinch runner against the Philadelphia Phillies. He was 0 for 8 for the Braves in limited pinch hitting opportunities.
In 2002, he was sent to the AAA Richmond Braves to start the season, but spent significant portions of the season on the disabled list due to various ailments. Despite a sub-par, injury-ridden season, he was still named the Braves second-best pro prospect after the season.
Betemit finally broke out in 2005 as the Braves' principal reserve infielder, frequently filling in at third base for the Braves' oft-injured star third baseman Chipper Jones, hitting .305 for the season. He hit his first career home run on April 27 against New York Mets pitcher Tom Glavine.
In the offseason, following shortstop Rafael Furcal's free agency in the winter of 2005, the Braves considered giving Betemit the starting shortstop job. However, they decided instead to trade for shortstop Edgar Rentería from the Boston Red Sox. Betemit continued to play a valuable role for the Braves as a pinch hitter and backup for second baseman Marcus Giles, Rentería, and Chipper Jones.
On July 28, 2006, Betemit was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for relief pitcher Danys Baez and infielder Willy Aybar. He made his debut for the Dodgers on July 30, 2006, playing third base against the Washington Nationals. He was expected to be the Dodgers starting third baseman in 2007, but poor play resulted in his becoming a part-time starter and pinch hitter. He hit pinch hit home runs in consecutive games against the Braves in May 2007.
On July 31, 2007, the Dodgers traded Betemit to the New York Yankees for relief pitcher Scott Proctor. On August 2, 2007, Betemit homered in his first Yankee at bat while filling in at shortstop for Derek Jeter and was given a curtain call by the fans in attendance. His entrance song is Pearl Jam's "Better Man." On May 9, 2008, Betemit was the victim of Detroit Tigers's pitcher Kenny Rogers' record setting 92nd career pickoff.
On November 13, 2008 Betemit, and minor league pitchers Jeffrey Marquez and Jhonny Núñez were traded to the Chicago White Sox for first baseman Nick Swisher and minor league pitcher Kanekoa Texeira.
On November 12, 2009 Betemit signed a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals.
At the time of his trade to the Yankees, in his career Betemit had played 202 games at third base, 57 at shortstop, and 12 at second base, as well as 1-2/3 uneventful innings in right field. On August 4, 2007, Betemit started his first career game at first base for the Yankees.
There is some confusion surrounding Betemit's date of birth. His official Player Profile on MLB.com used to list it as 1980-07-28, while other sources, including his information page on respected statistics site Baseball-Reference.com, have it as 1981-11-02. An article from February 2000 in the Savannah Morning News offers an explanation for the discrepancy.
The pronunciation of Betemit's last name has been a matter of some debate among baseball broadcasters and fans. Betemit has stated that he pronounces his name the way it is pronounced in his native Dominican Republic, ie "Bay-tah-mee", not "Bet-eh-mitt". ("The 't' is silent," he explains.) However, Betemit has also said that he does not especially care that many American baseball broadcasters have "Americanized" his name by pronouncing the "t".
In an interview in 2006, Atlanta Braves announcer Joe Simpson related that he had asked Betemit about halfway through that season how to pronounce his name, and when told the answer, apologized to him, saying, "I've been pronouncing your name wrong all this time, but I'm gonna pronounce it right from now on!"
Youngest Player in the
Wily Mo Peña