• Steve Potter

7/18/22 : Spotlight Series - RHP Trevor Bettencourt

Written by Steve Potter

In between writing the minor league roundups and weekly and monthly standouts I thought I’d intersperse a few player spotlights 😎 - perhaps some fellas you haven’t heard much about. Today’s article is about  RHP Trevor Bettencourt.

Trevor was drafted in the 26th round of the 2016 draft from UC Santa Barbara where he had transferred to after spending his first two collegiate seasons at the University of Tennessee.  I remember first noticing him when he pitched in the 2016 College World Series, shutting out Arizona over five relief innings with seven strikeouts and allowing just one hit  - showed an outstanding big breaking hook that I thought was a pitch that could be his eventual ticket to the show.

As a professional the now 27 year old accomplished immediate success posting a 2.37 ERA over his initial 98 2/3 innings pitched from 2016 to 2018 reaching the AA level with Reading in 2018.  However, he pitched in just 2 games during the 2019 season before going on the injured list in April and eventually having Tommy John ( TJ ) surgery.

He’s now back with Reading after a lengthy rehab effort and has appeared in 2 games ( 3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 5 K’s ) with the Fightin’s after being activated on July 12th.  I was fortunate enough to ask Trevor a few questions this past week, here’s our correspondence.

How many TJ surgeries have you had during your collegiate and pro career ?

“I’ve had two, had my first when I was transferring colleges in 2014. Then had my second one in 2019.”

What burns inside to be so persistent in your comeback efforts ?

“Well it hasn’t been a solo grind, I’ve been lucky enough to have a ridiculous amount of support from family and friends. The list of people who have helped me is a long one.  But to answer your question, I just wanted to find out.  I wanted to leave no doubt that I could have made it back. It had definitely crossed my mind a few times to move on but I didn’t want to get to be 45,50 years old and always wonder what if.  What if I pushed just one more day, pushed through one more setback and next thing I know I’m back doing what I love.”

There seems to be a special bond amongst the rehab players in Clearwater - what does that stem from ?

“Whatever the injury, every guy shares a similar experience to each other.  We all have our own route of how the injury happened and the process of coming back from it, but mentally every guy usually goes through the same rollercoaster.  We all share our thoughts and experiences with each other throughout the rehab progression. So the trust that builds over months and months of grinding everyday with your boys is something special.  You have someone ten months into their rehab running over to watch someone just play catch for the first time because they remember that moment.  The experiences and people I’ve met over the last three years has changed me for the better and I couldn’t be more thankful.”

Do you feel that you are a better pitcher now than before - what have you learned and experienced ?

“I don’t know if I would say I’m physically a better pitcher than before, but I would definitely say I view the game a little differently.  I think this has helped me appreciate and just enjoy playing the game.  I love competing and want to win very badly, don’t get me wrong, but I think I have a better sense of how to turn the page than I did before.  Through the ups and downs that pro baseball brings on a daily basis, I want to make sure that no matter what that I take the time to enjoy every moment.”

What is your pitch arsenal now, we’ve noticed a cutter in the mix.

“A cutter - a four seam that cuts, lol, plus a curve and a sinker.  The cutter has been acting like a slider/cutter lately.”

Personally I get mixed up on what a cutter is and whether it’s the grip on the baseball as the primary thing or the arm action and slot that produces the cutting action so I asked Phillies Minor League Pitching Coordinator Travis Hergert for an explanation.

“Some guys hand/wrist and how the arm unwinds creates a cut action to the fastball.  Some intentionally cut the ball to create gloveside movement - a true cutter, not a slider that may have some depth and sweep.  For example, we may develop a cutter for a right handed pitcher to get in on left handed hitters . Zack Wheeler for example throws more of a cutter to left handed hitters and a slider to right handed batters.”

Thanks to Trevor for answering my inquiries and to Coach Hergert for the quick pitching lesson on the cutter.  Trevor still possesses the wipeout curve ball as a put away pitch which in addition to his sinker and now a cutter with a combination of slider/cutter movement he’s certainly one to watch.

A fella that is a very popular teammate, has a passion to compete and love for the game and a persistence to leave no doubts as to what could have been is not only a player who I wouldn’t bet against but also a person who’s destined to impact the world in a very positive way.  Based on my observations during his rehab work at the complex I’d say he already has!  We will continue to root for the young man - it’s great and inspiring to see good people have good things happen for them and hard work pay off - we believe in what we saw back in that collegiate game in 2016 - there’s still a ticket available to be punched to the show.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball

Trevor Bettencourt with Reading this season - photo by George Youngs Jr

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