Learning the Farm: Seth Beer
For a few years, Astros fans had become accustomed to their team picking near the top of the first round of the MLB Draft. Of course when you are drafting at or near the top of the draft, you can pick guys like Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman, guys who every team would love to pick if given the opportunity. That changed in 2018 when the defending World Series Champion Astros had the 28th pick in the first round. Jeff Lunhow and staff used the later pick to take a guy who absolutely dominated one of the top conferences in college baseball; but a guy who came with serious questions about his ability to impact a big league club. That guy is Seth Beer.
Seth is a 1B/OF out of Clemson University. His college stats are so ridiculous it is hard to believe they are real. As a freshman in 2016 he hit .369/.535/.700 in 203 ABs with 18 HRs, 13 2Bs, 62/27 BB/K, and 70 RBI. Beer became the first freshman to win the Dick Howser Trophy for the national college player of the year. Those numbers are insane, but even more so when you consider that Seth enrolled at Clemson early, so he technically could have played the 2016 season as a high school senior facing high school pitchers instead of guys from the likes of Florida State, North Carolina, Louisville, and Miami in the top-notch ACC. Word quickly got out about Beer in the conference and across the country and rightfully so. His sophomore and junior seasons did not quite replicate the absurdity of his freshman year as he was pitched much more carefully, but they were good enough to earn All-American status every year of his college career. More importantly, he maintained his spot on the radar of MLB scouts, with an OPS over 1.000 in each of those seasons and hitting a total of 38 HRs over the final two seasons. There was a general consensus among scouts that Seth was one of — if not the — best college bat in the draft, some rating him a 70 power tool.
The questions about Seth have nothing to do with his ridiculous college numbers. The two strikes against Beer are 1) whether he can hit with a wood bat and 2) even if he can hit with a wood bat, does he have a defensive position or is he a full-time DH. The wood bat concerns seem to be rooted in two summers during college in which Seth played for team USA and put up below average numbers with the lumber. However, that was a small sample size, and Seth seemed to answer those questions in his first season in pro ball where he slugged .496 in 297 plate appearances across 3 levels (Tri-City A-, Quad Cities A, Buies Creek A+). Question the kid’s bat at your own risk, he has proven to be a top tier hitter wherever he goes. The more pressing question about Seth is his glove. His athletic left-handed swing at the plate doesn’t quite translate to athleticism in the field. In college, the right-handed thrower was mainly stationed at first base, manning the outfield on occasion. In pro ball, however, it seems that the Astros organization wants to get him more reps in the outfield. In his first year of pro ball, Seth got 39 starts in the outfield (mostly in LF), 17 starts at 1B, and 11 at DH.
Seth will still need to work on his defense, but his bat could carry him to the big leagues. If he can get his defensive game right, there is no question he has the potential to be a middle of the order bat who can really make a difference at the big league level. It’s easy to see a not-so-distant future where Beer jerseys flow freely throughout Minute Maid Park.
**Photo Credit: Joe Dwyer**