A Prospect Snapshot from 1997
Carlos Beltran played the 1997 season at Class A Wilmington in the Carolina League, at the age of 20. His numbers weren't that impressive:
120 games, 419 at-bats, 57 runs, 96 hits, 15 doubles, 4 triples, 11 homers, 46 walks, 96 strikeouts, 17/7 SB/CS, .229 average, .311 OBP, .363 SLG. His OPS was six percent worse than league average.
However, he was one of the youngest regulars in the league, and Wilmington was a lousy place to hit. His plate discipline was adequate, and his power/speed combination was apparent even with struggling numbers in other categories. He did not rank highly on prospect lists: I gave him a Grade C in my 1998 book, with the notation that he had good long-term potential but needed to refine it. He was nowhere near my Top 50.
He did not make Baseball America's list of Top Ten Carolina League prospects. Who did? In order: Russ Branyan, Kris Benson, Aramis Ramirez, Braden Looper, Abraham Nunez the Shortstop, Carlos Lee, Ben Petrick, George Lombard, Willie Martinez, and Bronson Arroyo.
Beltran returned to Wilmington in '98, played better in 52 games to earn a promotion to the Texas League, where he hit .352 in 47 games and appeared in late-season action with the Royals. Beltran was a good example of a tools player made good, moving from weak Carolina League performance to an appearance in the Majors within a year.