A look at Red Sox prospect left-hander Jalen Beeks

Mar 1, 2017; Sarasota, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Jalen Beeks (52) throws a pitch during the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2017; Sarasota, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Jalen Beeks (52) throws a pitch during the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox have one prospect that is somewhat under the prospect radar – left-hander Jalen Beeks

A friend who follows the Pawtucket Red Sox sent me an email regarding Jalen Beeks. As a former coach said friend was quite impressed with how Beeks approached each hitter and thought Beeks eventually would surface in the majors.

Size matters in a lot of areas and one apparently is in baseball where big means better – especially pitching. The idea is the towering hurlers have a distinct advantage over their height-challenged brethren. The latest one that I saw relates to the Red Sox prospect Beeks. The left-handed 23-year-old is listed at 5’11” and 195 pounds and that maybe be stretching it a wee bit.

The scouting reports mention Beeks size and lack of sustained heat – meaning a blazing fastball – as a reasoning behind not being drafted in high school and eventually falling to the 12th round in the 2014 draft. The height issue is a bizarre one considering the collection of baseball miniatures that populate the current Red Sox roster.

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Beeks has made steady progress in the Red Sox system primarily as a starter. Beeks pre-season ranking on MLB Prospect Watch has him listed at 28th among the prospects in the system. Sox Prospects places Beeks at 15th on their evaluation.

"Beeks lacks a plus pitch, relying instead on mixing four offerings and deception to succeed. His fastball sits in the low 90s and peaks at 95 with some run on it. His changeup regressed a bit in 2016 but is still an average pitch, as is his improved slider. He also uses a slow curveball to give batters a different look. – MLB Prospect Watch"

My personal measuring tool for pitchers is BB/9 and Beeks has some interesting numbers that clearly show no uniform consistency. In 2015 at Greenville Beeks posted a 1.7 BB/9, but the following season that jumped to a 3.5 BB/9 in a split season between Salem and Portland.

This season Beeks proved himself capable of and earned advancement with a 5-1 record at Portland in the Double-A Eastern League. The negative is the increase to a 4.0 BB/9 that was somewhat offset by a 10.6 K/9 and a 2.19 ERA. Off to Pawtucket.

At Pawtucket, Beeks has made three starts with the PawSox and has done rather well. The sample is small with only 18.2 innings pitched, but the 2.4 BB/9 is encouraging. Beeks has allowed 15 hits and that keeps his WHIP at 1.15.

Expect Beeks to stay in Pawtucket for the remainder of 2017 and probably for 2018. The Red Sox next season may actually catch a break and have the starting depth so predicted for this season. Beeks will also attempt to further refine his skills, but not being a traditional hard thrower has its advantages – you simply learn to pitch first and not rely on smoke.

Does Beeks have an MLB future?

"He reached Double-A midway through 2016 and has established himself as one of the better lefty starting pitching prospects in a Boston system thin in that department. – MLB Prospect Watch"

Beeks steady advancement shows a player able to make adjustments and refine his specialty – pitching.  The terms used in scouting reports is “deception” and that certainly is a solid method to compensate by not being able to call on number one to solve all pitching problems. Beeks has the usually expected pitch collection – slider, curve, change and the variations of his fastball.  If Beeks can locate at least three with a degree of certainty he may become a starter and not bullpen fodder.

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As for the Red Sox, they have a wealth of left-handed pitching and that can cause a stalled advancement, but in baseball, change is a constant. Beeks could be summoned based on need and most certainly if he proves himself in the International League.