Jordan Betts took the path that not many college players take in deciding to return for a senior campaign at Duke, but the extra experience and education that came with an additional year has the 22-year-old third baseman poised to prosper at the professional level.
As a second-team All-ACC player after his junior season, he was a shoe-in to be drafted, but he made his intentions to return to Duke clear, so instead he took his talents to Orleans for the summer before returning to Durham to complete his collegiate career on and off the field.
“For me, going back to Duke was the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Betts. “I grew a lot as a player, grew a lot as a person. I had a really great year both on and off the field.
“I wanted to go back because I knew we could have a good year at Duke. Not that I didn’t feel ready, I even surprised myself with how much I grew in my last year.”
In June, the Red Sox snatched up Betts in the 18th round and immediately slated him for Lowell, where he has excelled thus far.
In his first 31 games with the Spinners, the Wilmington, N.C., product has a .298 batting average, .512 slugging percentage, team best five home runs, 18 RBI, and 17 runs. He also picked up two hits at the team’s recent visit to Fenway Park, a place he got to play around in last summer while spending time in the Cape Cod League.
“I had done everything but play a game at Fenway,” said Betts, who singled twice in Lowell’s 6-1 loss to Mahoning Valley. “That park is baseball. To share the field where all these great guys have played, it’s humbling, but it really motivates you going forward.”
Betts has also received a hand from fellow Wilmington native and former Fenway favorite Trot Nixon.
Their two fathers have enjoyed a long friendship and while Nixon was wrapping up his professional career, he reached out to his fellow New Hanover High School alum to check in on his progress.
“As I’ve become an adult and since I’ve been at Duke and his career has been over and he’s enjoying retirement, he’ll text me throughout the year and say congrats or checking in to see how I’m doing,” Betts said of his relationship with Boston’s original dirt dog. “He’s a really great guy and a guy I’ve always looked up to as a mentor, especially now being in this organization.”
With all of that experience on his side, Betts is beginning his life as a professional baseball player with much more than most do and thus far it is paying off.
“The game hasn’t changed, it’s baseball,” said Betts. “I’m just having fun and trying to be really consistent. To this point, I’ve done a good job at being that consistent guy.”
Betts and the Spinners welcome the Hudson Valley Renegades (Tampa Bay Rays) to LeLacheur Park for three games starting tonight, and the Brooklyn Cyclones (New York Mets) for three starting on Sunday.
The PawSox have four relievers – Tommy Layne, Dalier Hinojosa, Drake Britton, and Alex Wilson – who have made 30 or more appearances. The foursome, the only four pitchers in the Sox minor league system to pitch in 30+ games, are holding opponents to a .216 batting average.
Squeezing the system
Pawtucket (AAA) – Since returning to Pawtucket after a two-game stint with Boston, outfielder Alex Hassan has hit safely 28 of 35 games. In that span, he is batting .354 with 23 extra base hits, 22 RBI, and 26 runs scored.
Portland (AA) – Derrik Gibson, batting ninth for the Eastern Division in the Eastern League All-Star Game last week, went 2-for-3 with a triple, home run, RBI, and scored both runs for the East. In 76 games with the Sea Dogs this season, he is batting .319 and has scored 49 runs.
Salem (A+) – Reliever Kyle Kraus has not allowed an earned run in his last five appearances. In those games, he has tossed 13 1/3 innings, going 2-0 with a save, allowing just six hits and one walk while striking out 11.
Greenville (A) – In his last start, Jamie Callahan threw five scoreless innings, striking out seven in a non-decision. It was the second of his 19 starts this season in which he did not allow an earned run, the last coming on April 23. Last season with Lowell, Callahan had a run of 16 consecutive scoreless innings.
Lowell (Short Season A) – Shortstop Mauricio Dubon has hit safely in seven of his last eight games for the Spinners. Four of those games have been multi-hit affairs and one of those games included a career-high four RBI effort.
Gulf Coast (Rookie) – In seven appearances out of the pen, Keivin Heras has yet to allow a run over 18 1/3 innings. He is 3-0 with a save and a 0.93 ERA. Now in his third season of rookie ball, the 19-year-old righty is 11-1 with a 2.15 ERA.
Dominican (Rookie) – Daniel Gonzalez is 7-0 in nine starts in the Dominican Summer League this year. The 6-foot-5 right-hander worked mainly out of the pen last year, while only 17, but has been strictly a starter this season.