Rangers' Beltre Has Youth On His Side





ARLINGTON — There isn't much Engel Beltre can't do on a baseball field, and scouts project that it won't be long until he can do even more on a consistent basis. That's been the book on Beltre, it seems, forever.

But the Rangers have learned to keep one key thing in perspective about Beltre. Their top-ranked prospect among position players is still young and is still maturing—physically and mentally—into the type of player he was projected to be when plucked out of the Dominican Republic by the Red Sox in 2006.

Beltre's winter, though, only reinforced the club's belief that the 21-year-old is getting closer to realizing his potential.

"He's been very young for his level all the way up," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He was very young at winter ball. This guy is just growing into his body. He's got a very pretty lefthanded swing, and we think highly of him."

He hit .333 (29-for-87) in 33 games for Escogido of the Dominican League. Though he struck out 17 times and took only three walks, the Rangers see a player showing a more better approach at the plate.

Beltre, acquired in a 2007 trade for Eric Gagne, finished 2010 at Double-A Frisco after a torrid 68-game stretch (87-for-263) in his second stint at high Class A Bakersfield. He hit .300/.346/.410 between the two levels.

"There were questions raised by his offensive results, because they weren't as good as his talent," Daniels said. "The fact that he cut his strikeout rate the way he did this past year is a really good sign for someone his age. There's no doubt about his athleticism and defense. If he continues to make those kinds of adjustments offensively, now he's got a chance to be a plus player."

Beltre will be in big league camp for the first time in his career after being added to the 40-man roster in November. He's likely to begin 2011 back at Double-A. But his stock continues to rise as he ages.

"We'll see where it goes," Daniels said. "He's on the roster. He's on the radar screen. He'll dictate how quickly he moves up."

RANGER ROUNDUP

• Martin Perez struggled at Double-A in 2010, but the Rangers aren't worried. "He's got all the attributes you look for," Daniels said. "We just feel like it's going to take some time and innings and further development."

• The Rangers agreed to terms with 16-year-old Venezuelan shortstop Rougned Odor for $425,000. The 5-foot-10, 155-pound Odor stands out for his fluid actions in the field and simple, compact swing from the left side of the plate.