Sunday, May 19, 2013
In July 2006, the Boston Red Sox announced the signing of a group of teenage Dominicans, including 16-year-olds Engel Beltre and Oscar Tejeda.
Beltre, an outfielder, commanded a $575,000 signing bonus. Tejeda, a shortstop, received $525,000.
Twelve months later, the Texas Rangers reportedly wanted one of them to complete a deal involving Rangers reliever Eric Gagne and Red Sox prospects David Murphy and Kason Gabbard.
Beltre was sent to Texas. Tejeda stayed.
Beltre, a potential five-tool player, was struggling in the Gulf Coast League, albeit as a 17-year-old, batting .208.
Tejeda had already moved beyond the rookie league and was batting .298 in short-season Lowell.
Now, heading into the 2011 season, both remain prospects, although neither is a certainty to make it.
Each has been placed on his team's 40-man roster and headed into major league camp. Beltre goes to Surprise, Ariz., where the Rangers train, and Tejeda goes to Fort Myers, Fla.
While Beltre reached Double-A late last year, playing 47 games, Tejeda will get his first taste of Double-A this season with the Portland Sea Dogs.
"He's been around a long time, but he's still a young kid," Red Sox Director of Player Personnel Mike Hazen said of Tejeda, who turned 21 in December.
Boston has always pushed its prospects, sending their players to leagues with traditionally older players.
And Tejeda may have reached Hadlock Field sooner, but health issues, including a staph infection, and injuries slowed him in 2008 and 2009.
"The two previous spring trainings he had come in with injuries and missed time," Hazen said. "We saw last year he was physically ready for the first time.
"We were extremely impressed with how he went out in that league as a younger player."
That league was the advanced Class A Carolina League. Tejeda made the All-Star team, batting .307 with 11 home runs. He also moved from shortstop to second base -- becoming more consistent in his fielding as the season progressed.
Health was not the only factor contributing to Tejeda's improvement.
He also changed his stance, eliminating a high leg kick.
"The first couple of years I was doing the leg kick," Tejeda said. "Now I focus on the process."
The process is the batting approach the Red Sox push -- balanced stance, staying away from bad pitches, etc.
"Getting rid of the leg kick was a big thing because now he's under control," said Victor Rodriguez, the Red Sox roving hitting instructor. "He is seeing and recognizing pitches.
"He stuck with it the whole year and it paid off. That was the thing. The kid always had ability. It was the inconsistency."
Real consistency will be putting together back-to-back solid seasons. That will be his challenge in Portland. That, along with playing April baseball at Hadlock.
"I hear it is a good field," Tejeda said, "but that it is cold early in the season."
IN BASEBALL AMERICA'S 2011 Prospect Handbook, Tejeda is rated Boston's No. 10 prospect.
Beltre, by the way, is Texas' No. 5 prospect.
He is not the only ex-Boston prospect on the Rangers' list. Right-handed pitcher Roman Mendez, 20, is Texas' No. 13 prospect. He went to the Rangers in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade.
Four other former Sox prospects are now listed with other teams. Lefty Nick Hagadone, traded in the Victor Martinez deal, is Cleveland's No. 10 prospect.
And San Diego has its No. 1 (pitcher Casey Kelly), No. 2 (first baseman Anthony Rizzo) and No. 4 (outfielder Reymond Fuentes) prospects, thanks to the Adrian Gonzalez trade.
Milwaukee has two prospects who were once drafted by Boston but returned to school and were picked in later drafts by the Brewers -- outfielder Logan Schafer (No. 16) and infielder Hunter Morris (No. 17).
WHEN SPRING training camp opens next week in Fort Myers, 20 non-roster players will be invited, along with those on the 40-man roster.
Among those 20 are seven players who finished last season with the Sea Dogs -- pitchers Jason Rice, Kyle Weiland and Alex Wilson, catcher Ryan Lavarnway, infielder Nate Spears, and outfielders Che-Hsuan Lin and Juan Carlos Linares.
Of those seven, Spears and Rice will likely begin the year in Triple-A Pawtucket. Linares and Weiland have a chance at Triple-A, while the rest are probably headed back to Portland.
Catcher Tim Federowicz, who was in Class A last year and will be in Portland this season, will also report to major league camp as a non-roster player.
FUTURES AT FENWAY will include the Sea Dogs and Pawtucket Red Sox playing in a doubleheader on Aug. 20.
Portland will play Binghamton at 1 p.m., followed by Pawtucket vs. Syracuse.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be
reached at 791-6411 or at: