Strikeout king hiding in minors Notebook

May 23, 1992|By Knight-Ridder News Service

Rigo Beltran is used to going unnoticed, so the fact that he is leading professional baseball in strikeouts makes him a bit uncomfortable. Beltran says he has never been a strikeout pitcher. Never a dominating pitcher.

This season, however, Beltran has struck out 84 batters in 61 2/3 innings, an average of nearly 13 batters per nine innings for the Single-A Savannah (Ga.) Cardinals of the South Atlantic League. He is 3-0 with 1.61 earned-run average.

"This is kind of new to me," Beltran said. "I didn't realize I could do this well."

Beltran, a left-hander, was offered no scholarships to college. He walked on -- as an outfielder -- at San Diego Mesa Junior College. He didn't start pitching until his sophomore year at the University of Wyoming. He split time between first base and pitcher.

Last year, 25 rounds of the June draft went by before Beltran finally was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Beltran, now a pitcher only, throws a screwball, curve and 81 to 85 mph fastball.

"The screwball is really what separates him from everyone else -- he's able to throw it where he wants to anytime in the count," Savannah Manager Mike Ramsey said. "He's certainly opened everyone's eyes. I don't know if he'll be here the whole year, let's put it that way."

*

Ozzie Canseco, Jose's twin, has been on the disabled list of the Triple-A Louisville Redbirds because of a separated shoulder since May 12, but he is leading the Cardinals' organization with six home runs, including a 550-foot shot May 7 and a 500-footer April 30.

*

Yankees' left-hander Brien Taylor never had trouble with balks until he arrived in Fort Lauderdale. So far this season, Taylor has been called for six, including one in his most recent home start Sunday. The problem, pitching coach Mark Shiflett said, has nothing to do with Taylor's pick-off move.

"He's failed to stop in the stretch," Shiflett said. "You have to make a definite stop. He's just anxious to get rid of the ball."

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