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Dodgers prospect Matt Beaty hitting his way into conversation

Since becoming a pro, all L.A. prospect has done is hit, hit and hit. Here’s an interview

Matt Beaty (Rich Crimi)

The Los Angeles Dodgers are on a nice roll with their young talent. Joc Pederson’s power remains remarkably intriguing, Cody Bellinger’s power continues to leave us with our jaws dropped and Corey Seager is an absolute superstar. Alex Verdugo, Willie Calhoun and others also decorate the internet’s ever-popular prospect charts.

Well, now there’s another name to know now: Matt Beaty.

For the second consecutive season, the Tulsa Drillers, Double-A affiliate of the Dodgers, will have nine representatives in the Texas League All-Star Game. Their nine selections is the highest in the league.

One of those selections is Beaty. The 24-year old is carving up opposing pitchers in his Double-A debut. He’s been doing just that since he became a pro in 2015.

After four seasons at Belmont University, he’s taken up Minor League Baseball very nicely. He does a little bit of everything —20 home runs with 13 stolen bases and 76 walks (.357 OBP)— meanwhile carrying a sparkling .302 batting average through 241 Minor League games.

Originally drafted in the 48th round by Kansas City in 2011, he would ultimately become an L.A. Dodger, picked in round 12 in 2015.

A plus hit tool made the corner infielder an attractive player. That tool has become a reality for the Georgia born and Tennessee raised Beaty, but he’s also become an extremely versatile defender.

He played corner infield exclusively with a near 50/50 split in High-A during the 2015 season: 65 games at first, 51 at third, all the while hitting .297 and driving in 88 runs in 124 games with 11 homers and six stolen bases.

Beaty also displayed an extremely impressive 74:40 K:BB ratio, good for a .352 OBP, a number that has only gone up in Double-A.

Double-A has also seen him venture to the outfield, a move initiated on his own (read below) with the guidance of former Major Leaguer and Dodgers Director of Player Development Gabe Kapler, as well as numerous other coaches he also credits in the approaching interview.

25 and 14 games at his customary first/third positions respectively are accompanied by three right field and two left field starts. He’s also fielded an inning at second base, not insignificant in the grand scheme of Dodger things.

The Los Angeles Dodgers prospect shows a genuine affection for hitting the baseball. Adding a utility glove to his résumé could fast track him to the big leagues.

Let’s get to know him.

On being a 2017 Texas League All-Star...

“It’s an honor to be able to represent this league, I’m having a fun time with it. (Manager and former Major Leaguer Ryan) Garko had a meeting during team stretch and just congratulated all the guys in front of everybody. Everybody found out together so it was good to be able to celebrate with everybody else.

You’ve got a lot of All-Stars (league-leading nine), what’s it like playing with these guys?

“Our locker room is just a good, fun group of guys. We have a lot of fun each day and can also perform on the field. It makes coming to the ballpark a lot of fun. You have a lot of talented guys, a lot of guys that are loose and you can joke around with in the clubhouse.”

Your college-to-pro transition has been extremely smooth. How have you been able to do that?

“I love hitting. I work at it a lot. Just talking with, we have a lot of coaches in the system that have been in the big leagues. Talking about, I mean yeah you’re mechanics can be fine, but what it really comes down to most of the time for me is approach at the plate.

“Just being able to talk with (Rancho Cucamonga hitting coach and former Major Leaguer) Jay Gibbons about that in High-A last year and (Tulsa hitting coach and former Major Leaguer) Termell Sledge, I think that’s helped me out a lot to have a good, solid approach at the plate and have a plan of how pitchers are going to attack me.”

Did college ball help you make that transition?

“Oh, for sure. I got a lot of experience in college. I got to play a lot there, I started playing when I was a freshman. That just got me a lot of experience underneath my belt. Playing against some good talent and learning to play a lot of games in the year, that definitely helped me out and get ready for pro ball.”

You’ve added outfielder to your portfolio. How did that come about?

“Just this off-season I was talking about it with some other guys that I played with. I brought it up to Gabe Kapler and some of the other coaches during Spring Training and they got me some games out there. I was able to do that and luckily I’ve been able to play a couple games out there so far this year.

“I just feel like adding many positions and being versatile for the coach will help me a lot. Anything I can do to be able to hit (laughs) I’ll do it. Just getting a little bit of practice in the outfield makes me feel a lot more comfortable. Like I said, as long as I’m able to hit I’ll be happy.”

It must be nice having all these coaches with some serious big league experience to help you out.

“Oh, yeah. (Tulsa Assistant Coach and yes, former major leaguer) Leo Garcia is a very energetic and enthusiastic guy out there and I love working with him. It makes the extra outfield work a lot easier when you have a coach like that.”

Off-topic (my favorite): You were crowned ‘Mr. Dresden’ at Dresden High School in Tennessee. Is that like ‘Homecoming King’ or what?

(laughs) “I’m not exactly sure what it means. But I do know that my wife now—we just we got married this off-season— was ‘Mrs. Dresden.’ We started dating the summer after our freshman year of high school. I don’t know, we were kind of ‘the couple’ at our high school so it kind of worked out that we became ‘Mr and Mrs. Dresden.’