Rox prospect Bettis tabbed for MLB debut

Rox prospect Bettis tabbed for MLB debut

ATLANTA -- By backing off the effort pedal, right-handed pitching prospect Chad Bettis, ranked ninth in the Rockies' system by MLB.com, found himself moving speedily toward the Rockies' rotation.

Bettis, 3-4 with a 3.71 ERA at Double-A Tulsa, will make his Major League debut Thursday night against the Braves at Turner Field.

In the grand scheme, the progression has been quick for Bettis, 24,a second-round pick in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Texas Tech. But Bettis might have made the Majors last year had he not suffered an early right shoulder injury that cost him the entire season.

Bettis maintains a jerky delivery. At the suggestion of Joey Eischen, who was Bettis' pitching coach at Tri-City in 2010 and continues to work for the Rockies at Class-A Asheville, Bettis has simply dialed down the effort that goes with all that motion.

"[Eischen] told me 80 percent is what I need to pitch at, and let it unfold," Bettis said. "I dialed down a little bit, and also I added a pitch, a slower curveball, just to get better separation on the pitches."

Bettis also throws a slider and a changeup, with the changeup being his best pitch.

The Rockies did not give Bettis a chance to make the team out of Spring Training because they wanted him to prove his shoulder was healthy. Bettis started the season strong until injuring a left oblique muscle in May. Since his return, most of his starts have been stellar.

"They told me I was on the radar, go out there, have fun and don't worry about when I might get the call, because that's not in my control," Bettis said.

Before last season, Bettis was projected as a reliever, and possibly the teams' next closer. But the Rockies like power arms in their rotation. The last starter that skipped Triple-A was righty Juan Nicasio, who threw hard and dominated at the Double-A level.

"I can see doing either of them because of what I did in college," said Bettis, who began his collegiate career as a starter, moved to the bullpen, then struck out 102 his junior year as a starter before being drafted. "I prefer to be a starter, but whatever helps us here win ballgames, that's what I'll do."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.