The 2018 MLB Draft is less than a week away and we have a LOT of material in the queue for you. Next up: Clemson University outfielder/first baseman Seth Beer.
Beer was known to scouts as a high school player in Suwanee, Georgia. He enrolled in college early and wasn’t drafted as a result, but exploded with an insane freshman year in 2016, hitting .369/.535/.700 with 18 homers, 62 walks, and just 27 strikeouts in 203 at-bats, earning Freshman of the Year awards from several publications and, most critically, the Dick Howser Award as college player of the year.
His 2017 follow-up wasn’t as special but he was still very productive at .298/.476/.606 with 16 homers, 64 walks, and 35 strikeouts in 218 at-bats. 2018 has been another success, about halfway between 2016 and 2017 with a .316/.471/.656 slash, a career-best 20 homers, 52 walks and 31 strikeouts in 209 at-bats.
This is all while being pitched around extensively: Perfect Game notes that Beer seldom sees a hittable fastball and is fed a constant diet of junk pitches outside the strike zone, “similar to how pitchers threw to Barry Bonds at the peak of his career.”
Beer is listed at 6-3, 195, a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower born September 18th, 1996. His power is entirely real and I’d give it a 70 both raw and in-game. He also has a very patient hitting approach. However, for all of his obvious strengths, there are enough questions about Beer’s other attributes that he won’t be an early first-rounder and may not be a first-rounder at all.
Despite his track record of college success, not everyone is sold on Beer’s pure hitting skills, wondering if pro teams will be able to bust him inside often enough to be a problem. He didn’t hit particularly well in two summers for Team USA, hitting .178/.315/.267 in 2016 and .232/.362/.304 in 2017.
On the other hand, advocates note that he maintained control of the strike zone both summers, plus the sample sizes are small and that they don’t (or at least shouldn’t) override everything else he’s done.
In my opinion Beer’s pure hitting skills should be sufficient for the power and patience to properly play at the higher levels. Even if he’s a .250 hitter, there should be plenty of OBP and SLG.
A more significant problem is defense. Beer looks pretty athletic visually and has a competitive swimming background, but for whatever reason his athleticism doesn’t translate on the baseball diamond. His running speed is well below average. His arm isn’t a noodle but isn’t strong, either, call it mediocreish fringy. His instincts at both the outfield and first base appear, well, non-instinctive, meaning he lacks range and refinement.
Beer supporters believe he can be adequate with the glove at either left field or first base with more repetitions. Beer detractors say he may wind up as a DH only and no one drafts a DH in the first round.
Where does he land on draft day?
Consensus has Beer as a supplemental or maybe second round pick and he tends to rank anywhere from the mid-30s to the 60s on outside observer draft boards. Real teams also have a difference of opinion, but I think someone will bite in the comp round given his potential to be an impact power hitter.
Here’s some of that power
Perfect Game video