VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Next year is shaping up to be a major one in the impressive career of former Major League star Adrián Beltré, but the present isn’t too bad either.
A 21-year big league veteran, Beltré manned third base for four teams -- the Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers -- before retiring in 2018 at the age of 39.
The Dominican’s numbers that he posted are spectacular -- a .286 average, 3,166 hits, 477 home runs and 1,707 RBIs in 2,933 games played.
Beltré, 44, was a four-time All-Star selection, five-time Gold Glove winner and four-time Silver Slugger recipient. He is one of just 33 players to reach 3,000 hits, slotting 17th in the elite group.
Those accolades are good enough to already have him in the Rangers Hall of Fame and have his No. 29 retired, but next January he becomes eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame and is almost assuredly destined for Cooperstown.
But Beltré returned to his professional baseball roots over the weekend during the Breakthrough Series at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex to spend time with his son -- Adrián Beltré Jr., known by many as simply A.J.
“It’s been nice,” said Beltré, who played at the complex then known as Dodgertown from 1998 to 2004 after being signed by Los Angeles. “I haven’t been in this place in 15 years, so it’s nice to come back and see my son practicing on the field that I used to, having fun and trying to develop a little bit better.”
The senior Beltré was a fixture at the legendary facility in his early 20s while making a name for himself.
A favorite among sportswriters, the affable Beltré could constantly be found telling stories and talking baseball in the clubhouse behind Holman Stadium’s right field.
Now he shares those precious memories with A.J.
“It’s nice to see him playing the game that he and I love,” the older Beltré said. “This place is pretty special to me.”
A 2024 prospect who plays shortstop and pitches, A.J. is respectful of the game after growing up in Major League clubhouses.
“It was a great experience, one that obviously not every kid could say he had,” said Beltré, a Bradbury, Calif., native who is uncommitted. “And it just really drove my love for the game. I always loved baseball, but being around big leaguers every day was something really special for me -- something I really miss. But it was awesome for me as a kid and really fueled my love for the game.
“I feel like being the son of a big leaguer, seeing where they got to, what they were able to do, playing the game they love and getting paid for it, that’s always been a dream of mine. Baseball has just always been my life and something I really love.”
Beltré is just part of a legacy of former players sharpening their tools at JRTC.
Also an uncommitted 2024 infield prospect, Fielder appreciates the opportunity provided by MLB Develops.
“A lot of my friends have come here -- Druw Jones and Carsten Sabathia, who are also sons of legends,” said Fielder, who lives in Windermere, Fla., a suburb of Orlando. “The competition is always good with kids who kind of grew up like me. It’s nice to play against them.”
Like Beltré, Fielder has been around baseball since Day 1.
“Obviously, I was there [in clubhouses] my whole life,” said Fielder, a 6-foot, 210-pound lefty hitter like his father. “I wasn’t starstruck by the big names like Miguel Cabrera or Josh Hamilton and all those guys, and they always treated me like my dad, with respect, even though I was a little kid.
“Me and A.J. [Beltré], the first time we ever met was when we were seven at the 2011 All-Star Game. Ever since then, we’ve been real close, especially him and my brother [Haven].”
Sitting in the stands at Holman Stadium Saturday, Prince Fielder -- who rapped a career-best 50 home runs in 2007 for the Milwaukee Brewers -- is treasuring the time with his son.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said 39-year-old Prince, who matched father Cecil’s 319 career long balls. “My dad played, so he got to watch me coming up. It’s always fun to watch your son play because it’s keeping the family tradition. Lots of fun watching him grow and just become a man.
“My heart definitely beats a lot harder when he’s playing, for some reason. I’m not nervous, just excited. When I played, I was a little more nervous. When I watch him, I’m just excited.”