Blue Jays Shortstop Manuel Beltre Looks To Build Off 2021 Debut
The Blue Jays started an MLB-record six players from the Dominican Republic in a 7-1 win against the Red Sox on April 27, 2014. That captured the imagination of 9-year-old Manuel Beltre.
Seven years later, the Blue Jays made Beltre their top target in the 2020-21 international signing period, landing the shortstop with a $2.35 million bonus. He’ll head into his second pro season with a lot to build on.
The 17-year-old hit .225/.391/.346 with two home runs and 10 stolen bases in 53 Dominican Summer League games in 2021. His season was weighed down by a 6-for-46 opening month before he found a comfort zone.
Befitting a player signed because of his advanced approach, Beltre walked 42 times against just 33 strikeouts while regularly lining balls to the middle of the field.
“It was a year with a lot of learning,” the 5-foot-9, 155-pound shortstop said. “I had to learn in the middle of the season that it’s OK to fail. I can’t freak out because of one or two bad weeks. That's why this year was so good learning baseball, because that's going to help me to do better next season.”
The grind of pro ball was also new to Beltre, who for years made monthly trips during the school year to—and spent the summer in—the United States to play with travel ball teams. In coping with the long seasons, he found ways to get his mind off the sport by speaking with his family and friends and playing video games.
“Stuff to get my mind loose,” he says. “You can't freak out about one bad game. You have another opportunity tomorrow.”
Beltre progressed enough to be invited to an organizational strength and development camp in the fall. He spent another stint at the club’s player development complex in Dunedin, Fla., early in the winter and then returned home to the Dominican Republic to get ready for the 2022 season.