Yuniesky Betancourt Perez
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 190 lb.
"I was really scared in the middle of the sea, and everything was pitch black, and I remember not knowing if I would ever make it." - Yuniesky Betancourt, about being dropped off at a Bahamian beach for several days, in an effort to avoid the US Coast Guard in 2003 while he was leaving Cuba to try for the USA
Yuniesky Betancourt, who was signed in 2005 after defecting from Cuba, played in Double A, Triple A, the Futures Game, and in the majors for 60 games in his first season. After spending 2005 to 2008 and part of 2009 with the Seattle Mariners, he played with the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers.
In 2009, Betancourt was acquired in mid-season by the Kansas City Royals as a replacement for shortstop Tony Pena Jr., a player who posted very poor offensive numbers in the first half of that year. He was the Royals' starting shortstop in 2010, then after the season was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers with ace pitcher Zack Greinke in return for four prospects. He became the Brewers' starter at SS in 2011. He returned to the Royals for the 2012 season as a free agent. He played mostly second base for the Royals before they designated him for assignment on August 5th, when he was hitting .228 with 7 homers and 36 RBI in 57 games. He went to spring training with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2013, where he competed for a utility infielder job with Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis, but was released at his request before the end of spring training when it became clear that he would not make the team. Betancourt was immediately signed by the Brewers, who gave him a one-year contract.
Everywhere he has played, he has posted decent batting averages with some power, but with poor on-base percentages that make him a below-average offensive player. Ratings of his defensive prowess differ widely: he makes a number of spectacular play and shows better-than-average range factors, but is always among the league leaders in errors committed, so that some advanced defensive metrics rate him as being below average overall.
He had a dramatic saga coming to the USA, as he was smuggled in by boat in 2003, driven to Los Angeles, CA went back to Mexico to try to get a visa to come back legitimately to the USA, was arrested by Mexican authorities and released, and then came to the USA seeking asylum. Source: www.latinobaseball.com/hot-corner-18.php
He is one of only two major leaguers to bear the name "Yuniesky" along with fellow Cuban Yuniesky Maya; he's also one of only two players to have the last name "Betancourt". The other, Rafael Betancourt, is from Venezuela.