Beltre Gets Back On Track





PLAYER OF THE YEAR: After an off year in 2009 when he earned a reputation as less disciplined at the plate than Vladimir Guerrero, outfielder Engel Beltre rebounded in a big way. The 19-year-old was moved to the No. 3 spot in the high Class A Bakersfield lineup early in the season and never looked back.

He hit .331/.376/.460 at Bakersfield and showed some hints of improved plate discipline. It earned him a midseason promotion to Double-A Frisco, where he hit .290 in his first month before finishing at .254/.301/.337.

Beltre struck out just 58 times in 444 total at-bats compared to 82 last season. If he realizes his full potential, its possible Beltre—acquired from the Red Sox for Eric Gagne—rather than Elvis Andrus or Neftali Feliz, may end up being the stud acquisition from the summer of 2007.

Pitcher of the Year: Lefthander Michael Kirkman was ready to walk away from baseball at the end of 2007 after two years of control issues and injury problems. But after talking with his father, he decided to stick with it and the Rangers may forever be fortunate.

Kirkman, a 2005 fifth-round pick, has steadily improved since junking a tweaked over-the-top delivery that may have contributed to his problems. Kirkman, 23, went 13-3, 3.09 in 131 innings at Triple-A Oklahoma City before earning a promotion to the Rangers' bullpen, where he had yielded just one run in 10 appearances.

KEEP AN EYE ON: Add 19-year-old Robbie Erlin to the Rangers' deep stock of talented lefthanders that includes Derek Holland, Kirkman, Martin Perez and last year's breakout pitcher Robbie Ross.

In his first full season, Erlin, a third-round pick in 2009, led the low Class A South Atlantic League with a 2.12 ERA. Even more amazing is that he struck more than a batter an inning (125 in 114 innings) while walking only 17 with Hickory.

RANGER ROUNDUP
 
n The Rangers set a franchise record with six different minor league teams making the playoffs.

n The Rangers named 17-year-old David Perez their minor league pitcher of the month for August. Perez went 1-0, 0.50 in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League. First baseman Jhonny Gomez, 20, was the Rangers' player of the month after posting the highest batting average in the Rookie-level Arizona League in August, batting .475 (28-59) with 5 doubles, 2 triples, and 10 RBIs.