Jalen Beeks Finds The Right Mix At Triple-A
Throughout his first two full pro seasons, lefthander Jalen Beeks showed an inconsistent three-pitch mix that kept him developing as a starter but made his likelier projection as a bullpen arm. But improved action on his changeup in 2017 along with the introduction of a cutter that allowed the 24-year-old to attack to his glove side opened up the plate for his entire repertoire.
With a cutter and a willingness to mix freely with a fastball that sits in the low 90s and tops out around 95 mph, Beeks forged an outstanding 2017 campaign. He went 11-8, 3.29 with a 26 percent strikeout rate at Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. That was up from 19 percent in 2016 at high Class A Salem and Portland.
A 12th-round pick from Arkansas in 2014, Beeks also throws a changeup and a curveball.
"I feel like I’m able to throw any pitch in any count . . . to just about any location right now,” Beeks said. "I’m not as predictable, I guess.
"Unless you have Noah Syndergaard stuff—guys who can throw it down the middle at 100 (mph)—you’ve got to be able to do something different at 90-93. Just being able to (mix pitches) has opened up a lot of holes in swings.”
While Beeks’ velocity is close to average, it nonetheless generates a lot of swings and misses. That's because of his unpredictable pitch mix as well as good extension that allowed the ball to get on hitters and plenty of pitch movement, both horizontal and vertical.
"He’s not going to overwhelm you with velocity, but it plays higher than that,” Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said. "He has swing-and-miss to his fastball.”
Each of his Beeks' four pitches deserve grades of average to above-average, but the combined effect of them—along with an understanding of how to use them—made him an obvious player for the Red Sox to add to their 40-man roster this offseason.
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Beeks will enter 2018 as a depth starter who eventually has a chance to lock down a spot at the back of a rotation.