- Full name Francis Beltran
- Born 11/29/1979 in Santo Domingo Centro, Dominican Republic
- Profile Ht.: 6'6" / Wt.: 255 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- Debut 06/28/2002
Organization Prospect Rankings
After pitching in the Futures Game, showing the best fastball in the Southern League and making his big league debut in 2002, Beltran had a forgettable 2003. His numbers were good but he wasn't his usual dominant self in Triple-A, and he pitched just twice after June 22 because of triceps tendinitis. He reportedly was on the list of prospects the Pirates could choose from in the Aramis Ramirez/Kenny Lofton trade, and Beltran's physical condition probably contributed to Pittsburgh's decision to take Bobby Hill. When he's right, Beltran can chew hitters up with a 95-98 mph fastball and a mid-80s slider. He'll throw a splitter to keep hitters off balance. It's the closest thing he has to a changeup, the pitch that prevented him from progressing as a starter. Beltran pitched well in his native Dominican Republic this winter, so his health is no longer a concern. Command remains his weakness, and once he improves in that regard he'll be ready to help the Cubs. He'll get a look in spring training but almost certainly will begin 2004 in Triple-A.
Though he had a 5.02 ERA in five pro seasons, Chicago protected Beltran on its 40-man roster after the 2001 season. He showed why last year, when he emerged as a dominant closer in Double-A and reached the majors. At the Futures Game, Beltran threw 96 mph and struck out Joe Borchard and Jason Stokes with sliders. Managers rated Beltran's 95-98 mph fastball the best in the Double-A Southern League. No one in the Cubs system has a better heater or slider. He throws the latter pitch in the mid-80s. He also uses a splitter to give hitters something else to think about it. Beltran didn't have as much success as a starter because his changeup and command were spotty. He doesn't need the changeup now, but he does need to improve his control, both in terms of throwing strikes and locating pitches within the zone. Though his age was revised upward eight months last spring, that didn't alter his prospect status. While with the Cubs, Beltran showed he needed more seasoning. After Chicago signed Mark Guthrie, Mike Remlinger and Dave Veres as free agents, Beltran will go to Triple-A Iowa.
Beltran was the biggest surprise among the additions when Chicago filled out its 40-man roster in November. In his first four years in the organization, he surfaced in full-season ball for just 16 games, posting a 9.68 ERA. But when he was forced to sink or swim in high Class A in 2001, he struggled for six weeks and then survived. He went 4-1, 2.08 over a sixstart span before he was hit by a bat and fractured a finger in June. Beltran missed six weeks and wasn't as dominant when he returned, but had shown enough to earn the Cubs' faith. His biggest assets are his intimidating size and his fastball, which hits 95 mph every time he takes the mound. His slider has its moments, though his changeup and control still have a ways to go. Chicago envisions him as a future set-up man or closer but will use him as a starter this year in Double-A to get him innings.
Minor League Top Prospects
During a season marked by extraordinary relief pitching in the SL--Birmingham's Joe Valentine tied the league record for saves and Mobile's J.J. Trujillo was on pace to surpass it before a promotion--the towering Beltran was most impressive. He had arguably the best fastball in the league, consistently pitching in the mid-90s throughout the year. Beltran didn't make it past high Class A in his first five years as a pro, yet he finished his sixth in the majors. He has found a niche in the bullpen after being tried as a starter, a role in which his lack of an offspeed pitch hurt him. He still needs to improve the consistency of his slider and his control, as his struggles in Chicago would indicate. He remains a raw talent, one the Cubs can afford to nurture.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Fastball in the Southern League in 2002