Lazy Comps: Engel Beltre
Lazy Comps are comparisons, and they are lazy because its not really in-depth scouting.
Engel Beltre, CF, 23
.262/.310/.689 in 7 MiLB season
He’s been in the Rangers organization longer than Mitch Moreland (signed 8-4-07), outlasted Julio Borbon (signed 8-15-07), became a Ranger the same day as Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, and David Murphy. Derek Holland has only been with the Rangers three months longer than him. He was with the Rangers before Nolan Ryan was named team President, (February 2008). And he had been with the Rangers almost a two full years before Jurickson Profar ever arrived. The word ‘Engel’ elicits 535 response in the Newberg Report archives.
Engel Beltre will play himself into Arlington or a trade this year. 2013 is his last option year, meaning he’ll face the Julio Borbon treatment in 2014 if things don’t work out. Things are actually working out though. As of May 6th the EBOW (Engel Beltre OBP Watch) was at .349.
That is a career high for the moment, and almost 40 points higher than his MiLB career OBP. Also this is his first crack at AAA, after spending parts of the last four (!) seasons in AA-Frisco. Beltre won’t have to hit much to earn his keep in the bigs. His other three tools (arm, glove, speed) are all elite.
In fact, Beltre won the Rawlings Gold Glove Award, which goes to the best defensive player at each position of the 120 full-season minor league teams. Simply he was the best centerfielder off all minor league baseball- that’s pretty special.
In the 2009 Newberg Report, Jamey wrote, “he’s such a freak talent that a dramatic breakthrough is possible at any time”. Four seasons later still qualifies as ‘at any time’. I can’t confirm this but I believe Engel Beltre shares a Newberg Report record with Martin Perez for being in the the rankings six times (both, 2008-2013). Newberg had Beltre at 7, 9, 10, 4, 25 and 22 over the past six years. Beltre has survived several trades and the influx of competing talent over the past half decade or so.
I’ve never been one to give much credit or blame to a hitting coach but months into Dave Magadan’s tenure he set up a hitting clinic in Arlington with the top, young Latin American hitters in the Rangers organization: Profar, Leonys Martin, Jorge Alfaro and Beltre.
It is possible that a little time with Magadan got Beltre to add a bit more control to his aggressive attack at the plate. Beltre has never made such an impression for the Rangers to consider calling him up until now. It’s imperative that the Rangers get a look at Beltre in Arlington, because next year they’ll have to commit a 25 man roster spot for him.
Peter Gammons said this a few years ago, when he was asked about prospects to watch for, “there’s a young outfielder with the Rangers named Engel Beltre. It’s going to be another year, but he might be a great player. I can’t wait until he and Josh Hamilton are playing together”. Welp, Beltre outlasted Hamilton too.
In the 2010 Newberg Report, Jamey said, “spend any time watching Engel Beltre play, and not just reading the box scores, and you won’t lose hope. You can’t. The kid won’t let you”. Thankfully, the Rangers haven’t lost hope either.
Each trade is different, but I would imagine they way Beltre is playing now the Rangers would rather hold onto him rather than package him with other prospects. Jon Daniels has a history of holding on, and holding out for Beltre.
From a Newberg Report almost five years old, as told by Peter Gammons,
“the biggest holdup in the Gagné deal, other than working out his negotiated rights to refuse a deal to Boston, was 17-year-old outfielder Engel Beltre. When [Theo] Epstein went to bed at 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, he had refused to include Beltre in the trade, so on Tuesday morning, the Rangers still were down to the Brewers (Zach Jackson, Tony Gwynn Jr. and another prospect) ― who were on Gagné’s list of teams to which he could be traded ― and the Red Sox. But Epstein decided a 17-year-old kid a half-dozen years from the big leagues probably was worth including for a shot to win the World Series. ‘When Theo called and said he would put Beltre in the deal, it was down to the no-trade language and the paperwork,’ Daniels said. That paperwork was so complicated that it almost was not completed by the 4 p.m. deadline”.
All the potential in the world means nothing if it’s perpetually in the minors, and this is a harsh reality that’s coming to a resolution soon as Beltre is in his 7th minor league season.
42 career MLB plate appearances, .266/.312/.713 in 10 MiLB seasons
Golson, like Beltre, played his age 23 season for the Rangers’ AAA affiliate. It was also Golson’s first trip to AAA, he started hot (eerily like Beltre has this year) .290/.348/.767. The he cooled off the rest of the way steadily dropping about 50 points in OPS each month, all the way down to .515 in September. He finished the season with a line of .258/.299/.642.
Golson did get one at-bat for the Rangers that season. May 7th, 2009, Golson replaced Marlon Byrd defensively in the bottom of the 8th. He caught a deep fly ball off the bat of Gregorio Petit to finish a perfect, nine-pitch inning by Eddie Guardado.
Golson led-off the 9th by being rung up by Larry Vanover in a Brad Ziegler, four-pitch at-bat. Golson was down in AAA two days later. Golson has spent the last four seasons in AAA with three different clubs and he hasn’t shown enough of the hit tools to warrant much more than the 42 big league plate appearances.
Golson’s numbers never improved, and at age 27 it’s likely they won’t. This is the floor for Engel Beltre- a career AAA outfielder, or a 5th, 6th outfielder for a major league club.
2012: 19 HR, 37 SB, .260/.305/.768, 2.4 bWAR, 101 OPS+
After the 2012 campaign, Gomez, (a Boras client, like Beltre), cashed in on a three year, $24.5 million extension. Before 2012 though, Gomez looked like a prospect-bust. He had never hit above .260 for average, never pushed an OPS past .680, and never eclipsed 82 in OPS+. In other words he looked very much like Greg Golson on a major league team.
Gomez is considered to be one of the best defensive center fielders in the game. The contract is already looking like a bargain too. Gomez’s defensive metrics suggest he’s worth almost twice his contract on defense alone.
The 2.4 bWAR Gomez put up last year, has already been matched this year. Gomez has 6 HR, and is hitting a cool .368. Gomez’s career OBP of .300 gives hope that Beltre can thrive in the bigs too.