That’s the word you hear and see most often when talking to Blue Jays minor league officials or reading scouting reports about Manuel Beltre.
One of the highest rated bats in the 2020-21 IFA class, Beltre may not have as high a ceiling as some of his peers, but he makes up for much of that with intangibles, and a bat that’s hit over power at this point.
Beltre, who was born and raised in the Dominican, played his travel ball stateside, and had a scholarship lined up at FIU until the Blue Jays gave him 2.4 million reasons to sign. As a result, his English is well ahead of his peer group, as are his instincts and baseball IQ.
At the plate, Beltre shows quick hands and strong pitch recognition; his numbers in the DSL in his first pro season this year may not have shown it, but he had a very strong pro debut. Toss out a 1-32 stretch in his first few weeks of pro ball and you have a very decent season – Beltre posted only a .403 OPS in July, and .984 in August. Later in the season, he topped 100 mph exit velo several times, and will no doubt reach that regularly that as he grows and gets stronger (Beltre played this season at 17 years of age). He walked more than he struck out this season.
In the field, while Beltre may not be as flashy as fellow Blue Jays 2020-21 IFA Estiven Machado, who was limited to one game due to recurring hamstring issues, but he is a plus defender. He’s fundamentally sound, with good hands, footwork, and reactions to batted balls. He might ideally be better suited to 2nd one day with his average arm strength, but the Blue Jays will likely give him the majority of his reps at SS for the foreseeable future.
The signing and development of Beltre gives Toronto yet another solid up-the-middle guy. He puts balls in play, shows a feel for the barrel, gets on base, and is a strong defender. The Complex League should be his next stop, with Low A by the end of the season likely.