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Veteran pitcher Betancourt to retire

Rockies hoping prospects can match their speed skills with power bats
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rafael Betancourt, who joined the Rockies in a trade with the Indians during a 2009 playoff run and ended up fifth in club history in saves and sixth in appearances, revealed Friday to a Venezuelan blogger that he is retiring.

In a series of tweets in Spanish from a blogger for Diaro Panorama in his home country of Venezuela, Betancourt, who turns 41 on April 29, said "it was time." He also said he would love to be "linked" to baseball, but it's not clear if he'll pursue coaching opportunities.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rafael Betancourt, who joined the Rockies in a trade with the Indians during a 2009 playoff run and ended up fifth in club history in saves and sixth in appearances, revealed Friday to a Venezuelan blogger that he is retiring.

In a series of tweets in Spanish from a blogger for Diaro Panorama in his home country of Venezuela, Betancourt, who turns 41 on April 29, said "it was time." He also said he would love to be "linked" to baseball, but it's not clear if he'll pursue coaching opportunities.

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Betancourt originally signed with the Red Sox as a shortstop in 1993, but soon converted to pitcher and made the Majors with the Indians in 2003. Betancourt pitched for the Rockies from midseason 2009 to '13, missed '14 because of Tommy John right elbow surgery, then made the Rockies team again last Spring Training.

In his career, Betancourt was 38-37 with a 3.36 ERA in 680 appearances, and since his Major League debut on July 13, 2003, was never optioned to the Minors. With the Rockies, he appeared in 309 games and was 15-15 with 58 of his 75 career saves.

Video: SF@COL: Betancourt strikes out the side to earn save

Betancourt's career was a testament to control.

According to Stats Inc., Betancourt threw 11,098 pitches in the regular season and postseason. In his 10th game, on Aug. 3, 2003, with the 142nd career pitch, Betancourt hit the Rangers' Marcus Thames on an 0-2 count. He completed his career with a run of 10,956 pitches without another hit batsman.

In 2010 with the Rockies, Betancourt posted a whopping 11.13 strikeouts-per-walk rate. According to Tavis Strand of Root Sports Rocky Mountain, Betancourt's 4.41 career strikeouts per walk ranks second in MLB history among pitchers with at least 600 career appearances to Jonathan Papelbon's 4.54.

Around the horn
• The wave of prospects either hitting or about to hit the Majors consists mainly of solid hitters with speed -- shortstop Cristhian Adames and outfielders David Dahl and Raimel Tapia. Others have hinted at power -- catcher Tom Murphy (career high 22 homers in 2013), shortstop Trevor Story (20 last year) and third baseman Ryan McMahon (18 each of the last two years) -- but there isn't a monster home run hitter.

Video: PIT@COL: Adames smokes RBI triple to left-center

The Rockies' biggest chance to draft a ready-made power bat was in 2013, but the Cubs selected University of San Diego slugger Kris Bryant second overall, which made drafting righty pitcher Jon Gray from the University of Oklahoma a no-brainer.

The Rockies, who have happily accumulated hard-throwing pitching through the amateur ranks and through acquisitions, aren't the only team noticing that power is scarce. Manager Walt Weiss noted that throughout the game the pendulum has swung toward pitching.

Physical athletes also are gravitating toward the mound.

"There are plenty of athletic pitchers; pitchers, I will say, are getting bigger," Weiss said. "Obviously, we've seen the velocity. It can be cyclical. The pitchers took a big leap and, generally speaking, have left hitters behind a little bit. But I imagine hitters will close that gap at some point."

Video: LAD@COL: Tapia's lines go-ahead single in 7th

But with the Royals having won last year's World Series with quality at-bats rather than power, it could be that the Rockies' system is moving in a successful direction.

"The game has changed the last few years," Weiss said. "Those [power] guys are harder to find. Ideally, you want those guys sprinkled throughout your lineup. You can't have a whole lineup of those guys. There are too many empty at-bats, typically. You want to be a complete lineup -- you want guys to handle the bat, the guys that can run and the guys that can get you quick strikes, the big boppers."

Also, it's instructive not to put too much stock in Minor League power numbers. Of the aforementioned prospects, only Murphy played college ball, so it could be a matter of players still growing and learning.

And, don't forget, two of the greatest power hitters in Rockies history -- Todd Helton and Matt Holliday -- each had a career Minor League high of 16 homers.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Rafael Betancourt