I am plugging away at the Rangers and should have them done late tonight, but I thought you might enjoy my take on Engel Beltre.
ENGEL BELTRE, OF, Texas Rangers
I took some flack for giving Engel Beltre a Grade C last year, but I don’t really regret the decision. His rookie ball performance was highly erratic: horrible before the trade that sent him from Boston to Texas, excellent afterward. He’s got tools galore, but baseball history is littered with the bloated corpses of many similar players who could not adjust. After a full season in the Midwest League, we have more data now, though Beltre is still a tough grade. On the positive side: he was extremely young for full-season baseball last year at age 18. He’s got all Five Tools, and has flashed six of the Seven Skills. He is tapping into his natural power, and made good progress with his baserunning and fielding last year. Scouts and coaches like his makeup. His strikeout rate wasn’t awful. On the downside, he’s still very raw as a hitter, with atrocious strike zone judgment. That will put a gigantic cap on his production until and unless he resolves it. Optimists will say that Beltre is so young, that the complete lack of plate discipline doesn’t matter at this point, he can still be a star. And they’re right, he could be. But I can’t go so far as to say the lack of discipline doesn’t matter: it damn well does. It’s a good thing he has a good work ethic, because he’s going to need it. To use a meteorological analogy, Beltre is like a hot Kansas day in late June. The atmosphere is primed to explode. . .hot, humid. . .but there is a layer of warm air at the middle levels capping off the rising air and preventing all that potential energy from exploding. If something can break the cap, a gigantic tornadic thunderstorm will result, but the atmospheric forcing is weak, and the meteorologists aren’t sure what to predict and the stormchasers aren’t sure where to go. Late spring severe days have a high bust potential, but if something breaks the cap, look out. Beltre is exactly like that. If he can get the strike zone under control, he could be/should be a star. But that is a huge IF. Grade B, a compromise between Grade A potential and Grade C refinement.