Days Of Future Past: Rafael Betancourt


Rafael Betancourt Out To Prove He’s Not Done Yet

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Like every other team in Major League Baseball, the Cleveland Indians employ numerous players throughout their organization, from the big-league club in Cleveland to their rookie league team in Arizona and beyond.

And like every other Major League franchise, the Indians add and subtract from this player pool on a regular basis.

This irregular series will serve to post notice when a former Indians player has done something noteworthy with a quick look back at the player’s time in Cleveland.

Player: Rafael Betancourt

Why He’s In The News:

The Colorado Rockies re-signed the soon to be 40-year old former Indians setup man to a minor league contract. He had Tommy John surgery in 2013 and returned to pitch for the Rockies Rookie League affiliate Grand Junction and their Triple-A affiliate Colorado Spring Sky Sox.  Overall he worked in 19.1 innings across the two levels allowing 10 earned runs, striking out 15 and walking 8.

Interesting Note:

Signed out of Venezuela as an international free agent with the Boston Red Sox in 1994. Spent his first three years as an infielder (primarily shortstop) before making the move to the mound. Did not find immediate success as a pitcher and after the 1999 season he was let go by the Red Sox and signed to play with the Yokohama Bay Stars in Japan for the 2000 season.

He returned to the Red Sox organizations in 2001 pitching for their Double-A affiliate Trenton Thunder but his season was ended when he suffered a stress fracture to his pitching elbow. The injury not only ended his 2001 season but wiped out his 2002 season.

Years With The Indians:  After sitting out the 2002 season rehabbing his elbow in Venezuela he signed a minor league deal with the Tribe. After spending most of the year with the Indians Double- A  affiliate Aeros and a handful of appearances with the clubs Triple-A Buffalo Bisons he finally made the jump to the majors.

He’d spend parts of the next seven seasons working in a total of 371 games mostly in a setup role (although he did register 17 saves). One of the more lasting memories of Betancourt with the Indians will always be the painstakingly long time that he took between pitches. He’d routinely take in the neighborhood of 30-seconds on average and in baseball time that is an eternity.

How/Why Departed: 

The Indians began a full rebuild during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. He was part of the 2009 purge when on July 23rd he was traded to the Colorado Rockies for reliever Connor Graham.

Interesting Note About Graham:

Graham pitched for the Indians Double-A affiliate Akron Aeros in 2009 and 2010 and was out of baseball following the 2010 season. He resurfaced in 2012 pitching for the Long Island Ducks in the Independent Atlantic League. He remained with the Ducks in 2013 and had a couple of familiar ex-Indians as teammates Josh Barfield and Ben Broussard.

After Leaving:

He continued to be a dominant reliever with the Rockies appearing in 264 in parts of five seasons (2009-2013) and moved into the closers role in 2012 saving 31 games and recorded 18 saves in 2013 before suffering an elbow injury in August that would end his 2013 season and cost him the 2014 season.

His Future

He will look to rejoin the Rockies bullpen in 2014 and may even try to supplant 42-year old LaTroy Hawkins as the teams closer.

Notice a player you remember being in the Indians organization? We’re ever-vigilant, but sometimes we miss guys, too! Send us an email at and let us know which former Indians farmhand o