Spring training is well under way and the so-called meaningless games have once again become more than meaningful, especially for young players trying to make an impression on the many eyes watching them. And, making that all important favorable first impression is going well for a number of Dodger youngsters. Kyle Farmer, Will Smith, Keibert Ruiz, DJ Peters, Omar Estevez, Edwin Rios, Jake Peter, Alex Verdugo , among others, are drawing their fair share of attention.
Another young man is also making his mark as the pre-season games prepare us all for the 2018 season of Dodger baseball. That young man recently moved up to No. 23 on the MLB Pipeline Top 30 prospect list after debuting at No. 30 in January. All Matt Beaty does is hit.
Beaty was born in Dresden, Tennessee and played four years of baseball with the Dresden High School Lions. In each of his four seasons with the team he led the Lions in home runs, batting average, and runs batted in. As a junior he hit 19 home runs and drove in 61 runs in a year when he had exactly zero strikeouts. Beaty earned All-State honors three times and was a two-time District Player of the Year.
Following his 2014 season Matt Beaty played with the Green Bay Bullfrogs of the Northwoods League which is a collegiate summer league. He led the Bullfrogs with a .296 batting average and was selected to the Big League Dreams showcase as well as the MVP on the Bulldogs. During his summer season he registered 15 multi-hit games and walked 31 times compared to 25 strikeouts.
Beaty’s senior year in 2015 at Belmont University in Nashville was a banner year. He hit .382 along with 91 hits, 12 home runs and 76 runs batted in while posting a .469 OBP and a .668 slugging percentage. He walked 32 times while striking out only 17 times.
He was selected by the Dodgers in the 12th round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft and has just kept on hitting.
Following a six-game stop with the Ogden Raptors in 2015 in which he had 12 hits in six games, Beaty posted a .297 batting over 62 games with the Great Lakes Loons of the Midwest League.
His 2016 season with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the California League was pretty much a mirror image of his 2015 campaign as he again posted a .297 batting average along with 11 home runs and 88 runs batted in.
Beaty moved on to the Tulas Drillers of the Texas League in 2017 and after a bit of a slow start in the first half in which he hit .289, he burned through the second half of the season with a .357 batting average. On the season he posted a triple slash of .326/.378/.505 along with 15 home runs, 31 doubles and 69 runs batted in.
The 24-year-old Beaty won the batting championship in the Texas League in 2017 and was named the Texas League Player of the Year. More important than the accolades, he saw a marked difference in his hitting style and his power to which he gives credit to, “launch angle”, and the Dodgers development team.
“I saw my launch angle go from a six in Rancho all the way to a 14 last year in Tulsa. That brought more power. The ground-ball rollovers to second base started turning into doubles in the gaps. I really worked hard hitting last season with Gibby and Craig Wallenbrock.”
Following a trip to the Arizona Fall League in which he had two home runs and six doubles among his 16 hits, Beaty received an invitation to spring training with the Dodgers certainly fulfilling one of his baseball dreams.
“It’s a dream come true to be invited to big league camp. I just want to learn,” Beaty said. “I want to talk to [Justin Turner] and ask him about third base stuff. Talk to [Cody Bellinger] and ask him how it was being a rookie and talk about first base with him. Just pick everybody’s brains to learn as much as I can.”
Drillers manager, Scott Hennessey, is a huge Matt Beaty supporter and why not.? The 6’0”/210-pound budding utility player displays a confidence in himself, has a work ethic second to none and an unquenchable desire to learn and improve. Hennessey delighted in advising Beaty he had been selected to participate in the 2017 Arizona Fall League.
“I guess the first thing that comes to my mind is a kid in a candy store, because he hasn’t been touted as a prospect or a guy who would maybe get to do that,” Hennessey said. “He forced everybody’s hand. He earned it and he deserved it.”
“He hits velocity, hits left-handers, hits breaking balls. There’s nothing he can’t do offensively,” Hennessey said. “On defense, you can plug him into first, third, left.”
Beaty’s versatility, Character and bat has helped shorten the path he is beating down to get to MLB. His path may deviate away from Dodger Stadium as a number of hurdles (players) are in front of him. His value to the team may be more apparent during the next Rule 5 drafting day in December when the Dodgers will either have to protect him or perhaps lose him to another team.
In the meantime, he is enjoying beating down a path to MLB wherever it leads, as well as feasting on the development system into which he was fortunate to have been drafted.
Matt Beaty puts it very simply: “I’ve loved putting on the Dodger Blue.”
Photo Credit: Rich Crimi/Tulsa Drillers