After a breakout season in 2016 in Billings, the 2017 season was a big step backwards for Michael Beltre. In 117 games he hit just .238/.323/.324 for the Dayton Dragons during the year. He showed flashes at times, but struggled to find consistency throughout the season.

The 2018 season began in the same place that the 2017 season ended: Dayton. But it didn’t start immediately. Michael Beltre joined the Dragons on April 17th, nearly two weeks after the season began. In his first two days he went 0-4 with three walks. After that he racked up hits in nine of the next ten games with six more walks to round out the month. Over his 12 games played he hit .325/.449/.400 with nine walks and ten strikeouts in 50 plate appearances. He also stole four bases in five attempts.

To say that May got out to a strong start for Michael Beltre would be an understatement. Over his first six games he went 11-25 (.440) with four extra-base hits and six walks. His OPS in that span was 1.348 and he added in three steals for good measure. The Dragons outfielder went 0-9 in the next three games, but picked up from there, hitting .444 the rest of the week. The second half of the month, though, was a bit more of a struggle. He went 14-55 (.255) with eight walks and five extra-base hits in the final 17 games of the month. Over the 30 games played in May, Beltre hit .308 and slugged .467. Thanks to 18 walks with just 23 strikeouts in 129 plate appearances he posted a .414 on-base percentage. He also added another eight steals, giving him 12 on the season in 13 attempts.

June didn’t start out well for Michael Beltre. In what wound up being his final week in Dayton, he hit .167, going 3-18 with a triple and a home run. He was promoted to Daytona to join the Tortugas on the 8th. The struggles continued over the rest of the month in the Florida State League. The hits didn’t come – he hit just .234 in 13 games. But he walked as often as he struck out in that span. June would go down as his worth month, by far. In 18 games he hit just .215/.307/.292 with nine walks and 11 strikeouts. The outfielder added three more steals, giving him 15 on the season.

July was a tale of two halves. In the first 11 games of the month, Michael Beltre hit .241/.405/.379. He walked eight times and had nine strikeouts, but the hits didn’t find the grass often. In the final nine games of the month – he missed eight days near the end of the month – the 23-year-old hit .417/.488/.556 with a double and two triples. He also walked five times with just five strikeouts in that span.

The first week of August was solid, but unspectacular for Michael Beltre. He went 6-23 (.261) with four walks and two extra-base hits over six games. In the second week the hits didn’t come in bunches, Beltre hit just .250. The power, however, showed up. All four of his hits went for extra-bases as he slugged .688 during the week. A big slump followed for the outfielder, who went 1-12 with six walks the following week. The final eight games didn’t go much better as he hit just .200, but again walked a lot – eight times. In the 25 games during the month he hit just .211, but his 20 walks gave him a .375 on-base percentage to go along with a .342 slugging percentage.

For all 2018 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Michael Beltre Spray Chart

As a Right-Handed Hitter

As a Left-Handed Hitter

Michael Beltre Scouting Report

Hitting | As a switch hitter he’s certainly shown a stronger side over the years. He’s much better from the left side than the right. His speed helps him leg out some infield hits. His swing, however, doesn’t quite play up. He’s a below-average hitter who could use his speed to get a touch better out of the tool.

Power | This is the most intriguing tool for Michael Beltre. His game power simply doesn’t play. But he’s got above-average raw power. His swing simply isn’t conducive to lifting the ball and keeps him from tapping into his power.

Speed | He’s an above-average to plus runner who can use it well on the bases and in the field.

Defense | He’s better as a corner guy than as a center fielder, but can handle center field.

Arm | He shows off a solid arm that can play anywhere in the outfield.

When you see Michael Beltre he hits all of the check marks. He’s a big, physical guy with athleticism. Listed at 6’3″ and 220 lbs, he moves very well. He’s got plenty of tools, too. He can run, he can throw, he can hit the ball hard and far. And he’s also got a strong grasp of the strikezone, which allows him to post strong on-base numbers thanks to plenty of walks and a solid amount of contact.

But, there’s some weaknesses in his game, too. His swing is one that could use some work. While he’s got good raw power, his ground ball rate nearing 60% simply negates it and then some. He’s built like Mike Trout, but he slugs like Billy Hamilton. Because of this combination, Michael Beltre remains one of the more tantalizing players in the system.

When it comes to getting to his power, two things may help Beltre. The first would be getting the ball in the air more. The other could be to try and pull the ball a little more. From both the left and right sides of the plate he went to the opposite field quite a bit more than he pulled the ball. Tapping into his power could be a game changer, and it’s what is tantalizing about his game. At the same time, he will turn 24 in July and he’s yet to see a pitch in Double-A.

The combination of his plate approach, speed, and defense, could eventually carve out a role as a 4th/5th outfielder with some versatility on the bench. But if he’s going to have a chance to be a starter down the road at some point he’ll need to tap into his power more frequently than he does currently.

Longest Home Run of 2018

391 Feet on June 3rd.

Interesting Stat on Michael Beltre

He hasn’t homered as a right-handed hitter in the last two seasons, spanning 218 plate appearances.

Disclaimer: Michael Beltre was an addition to the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List after a trade opened up two spots on the list in late December. He was not initially on the list when it was released the final week of October.

13 Responses

  1. Matt Hamblin

    Sounds like a journeyman OF type who hits the bigs at 26-27 yrs old and provides teams a couple of years of cheap quality defense while drawing just enough walks to keep him hitting 7th in the order before being replaced by a more hyped prospect. Plus some upside if he can find the power. Not a bad guy to have a #25.

  2. Norwood Nate

    I just don’t see it with Beltre. He has the physical makeup to be a player, but just hasn’t seemed to put it together, and at his age, it’s starting to be pretty late in the game. As it is, his hit tool doesn’t allow him to get to his power or use his speed enough. Maybe someone can work with him on his swing. Seems to be the perfect project for the new hitting coach and his philosophy of getting the ball in the air.

    • Doug Gray

      At 25 you’re choosing between guys with flaws. Beltre certainly has one. Could have gone with a guy like Isabel, but the strikeouts are more worrisome for me even though he’s got a legit 80-tool, it’s really the only thing he’s bringing to the table. Do you go with a guy like Joel Kuhnel here? Could have. Good stuff, good numbers, ground balls – but, he’s a reliever. Maybe it’s a guy like Cash Case who has potential to hit, but you aren’t sure where he fits in on defense and he’s still in rookie ball. Trahan is a big leaguer already – but he’s the kind of guy that looks like he’ll be on that back-and-forth shuttle without much chance to ever start because of the bat. Do you go with upside but far away and flawed guys like Jacob Heatherly, Aneurys Zabala and his 102 MPH fastball, Danny Lantigua and his loud tools, Debby Santana, Nick Hanson?

      There’s plenty of directions to go. I decided to go with a guy who could reasonable make it as a 5th outfielder, who’s got some upside and tools, but is a little bit older.

      • Norwood Nate

        Sorry if you thought I was questioning his ranking at this spot. That wasn’t my intention. At this point of the rankings it really doesn’t matter much, as you noted you could go a variety of ways and everyone at this portion of the list has flaws. More so, I was just saying I have hard time seeing him put it together, as we’ve seen the enticing tools for a couple of years now and he continues to be someone who seems to be running in place.

        But, as long as we’re talking rankings, there’s a couple young guys that I find intriguing, like Finol, Santana, A. Diaz, Juan Martinez (3B) or even a guy who seems to be glossed over like Scott Moss. Not saying I’d have them over Beltre, but I find a bit more upside with a few of them, yet I get that they’re more unproven as they’ve yet to hit full season ball.

      • Doug Gray

        I didn’t think you were, I was simply expanding on how many different options there were for a spot like this – and how they’ve all got questions. It just depends on which questions you’re more comfortable with accepting as to how you’ll lean at this spot on the rankings.

    • Norwood Nate

      Fair enough. Thanks for the explanation. What you say makes sense.

      PS: Thought of you for a second when the wife and I watched “A Simple Favor” last night. A bit of an odd movie. But good luck in your pursuit of Ms. Kendrick.

    • Oldtimer this guy was 27 yo rookie for Reds in 1938. He hit well in MiLB but took 4 years to make it to the Reds. He led NL in hits 3 straight seasons, made 7 straight All-Star teams, won MVP, and helped Reds win NL pennants in 1939 and 1940.

      Way different circumstances BUT sometimes players are late bloomers. Chris Sabo is a more recent example (1988 NL ROY).

  3. Big Ed

    At age 23, you wonder why he is still trying to switch-hit. As a RH hitter in Daytona, he had an OPS of .491, although in only 47 ABs, and it was higher in Dayton. But at Daytona as a LH hitter he slashed .291/.425/.411, which is excellent for the Florida State League. Taylor Trammell, who is 26 months younger, slashed .277/.375/.406 for the year at Daytona.

    Assuming a hitting coach can do something to reverse the high groundball rate, Beltre at least has a chance of a break-out. He is certainly worth keeping in the pipeline, because it could just be a question of his connecting with the right hitting coach. What he has going for him is the high walk rate, which should translate to the higher levels.

  4. MK

    I have got to know most of the Dragons off the field over the last 10 years or so and this is one of the friendliest of them all. Don’t think l ever talked to him when he didn’t have a big smile on his face. In 2017 he spent a good amount of the season hitting ninth in the order because he felt more comfortable there. In 2018 he hit at the top of the order. I asked Coach Kevin Mahar about it and he said Michael finally figured out that he was a big strong fast kid and it showed in positive performance.

  5. Stock

    I had Beltre at 20 prior to the departures of Downs and Gray. Now he sits at #18. I really like him. It is a lot easier to adjust a swing plane than it is to improve your plate discipline. The Astros released J.D. Martinez in 2014. He adjusts his swing plane and he instantly becomes one of the best 5 hitters in baseball.

    I didn’t realize his opposite field tendencies. He needs to be more aggressive at the plate and elevate the ball more. If he does this his prospect value skyrockets. He easily vaults into the top 10 and maybe top 100 prospect in baseball.

    If he doesn’t pull the ball more and elevate the ball more he will never make it to the majors.

    I think doing these two things will will reduce his extremely high BB%. This is fine. If he walks less but doubles the % of time the exit velocity off his bat is greater than 95 MPH this is a good trade off.

    • MuddyCleats

      Any chance Reds could get Votto to do this; b more aggressive, elevate and pull the ball more?

  6. Cguy

    Angels have designated Austin Brice. It’s a little reassuring to think the Reds aren’t interested & have better options.