On Tuesday, just before the MLB trade deadline, the Yankees sent struggling outfielder Joey Gallo to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for starting pitcher Clayton Better. According to MLB.com, the Dodgers got a steal in the second round of the 2020 MLB Draft when they picked right-handed pitcher Brent Better.
The 23-year-old Texas Tech graduate was formerly considered one of the most dominant starting quarterbacks going into the first day of the draft, but he dropped in the rankings due to a series of injuries he suffered while playing for the Red Raiders.
Better had Tommy John surgery in December 2017 before the start of his debut season with the Red Raiders, and he had an arthroscopic elbow procedure seven months later. Although he struggled as a freshman, he bounced back strongly as a redshirt sophomore, helping Texas Tech advance to the semifinals of the 2019 College World Series with eight saves and four solid starts.
The Dodgers signed him to a $1,196,500 deal after he impressed them, but they limited his innings in his rookie season. In 2021, his first full season, he appeared in only 28 games and made 27 starts, allowing a total of 52 1/3 innings.
Beeter’s fastball sits between 93 and 96 miles per hour and occasionally reaches 98. His low-80s mph curveball has a strong spin rate that typically gets batters out.
Reporter for ESPN, Jeff Passan, validated Ragazzo’s story. I guess it’s better that it wasn’t a team from the American League. The Dodgers have their hands full with the ongoing Cody Bellinger saga, and now they’ll have to deal with another project in Joey Gallo.
Pitcher Clayton Better, supposedly purchased by the Yankees, was selected by the Dodgers in the second round of the 2020 MLB Draft out of Texas Tech. Both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America place the 23-year-old right-hander as the 15th-best prospect in the Dodgers system.
After 51.2 innings pitched (including 16 starts), Better has a 5.75 ERA, 5.06 FIP, and 14.3 percent walk rate at Double-A Tulsa this season. In spite of this, he has struck out 36.1% of batters while displaying above-average spin rates, and BA rated his curveball as the best in the Dodgers’ system earlier this year.
The Yankees were destined to win the Gallo lottery, and with his fastball and curveball, the Yankees’ pitching staff could likely mold him into a serviceable reliever, as predicted by BA. When they see Gallo in a rut, some fans may assume that he is just not trying to improve, but that is not the case.
He tried changing his batting style to be more contact-oriented, but it never worked and he was never going to be that kind of hitter. It was a far riskier venture than merely trying to find the appropriate modification to reestablish his usual stroke, given MLB pitching is tougher to hit than ever these days (not everyone can be as otherworldly as Judge).
Both Gallo and manager Aaron Boone have alluded to how seriously the man has taken his troubles, proving that baseball players are not robots. The pressure and the boos have clearly weighed on Gallo, and it’s hard to imagine anyone being happy with their performance when they’re struggling. Because of his guilt, he avoided leaving his Manhattan apartment until it was time to head to the field.
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