Beck has been on the scouting map for years. As a high school pitcher from Corona, California, Beck could have been a first round pick in 2015 but was strongly committed to college at Stanford. The Milwaukee Brewers drafted him in the 34th round but were, not surprisingly, unable to sign him.
Inserted into the Cardinal starting rotation for 2016, Beck was excellent, throwing 83 innings as a freshman with a 2.48 ERA with a 76/26 K/BB, 60 hits allowed. This put him in line for the first round again in 2017 as a draft-eligible sophomore.
Alas, that was not to be: Beck missed the entire 2017 season with a back injury. He was still drafted, this time in the 29th round by the New York Yankees, but there was no reason for him to sign at that point.
Beck returned healthy in 2018 and has kept himself on the draft radar. Through 90.2 innings over 15 starts, Beck is 8-4 with a 2.98 ERA with a 73/31 K/BB and 79 hits allowed.
Born June 24th, 1996, Beck is listed at 6-4, 160 on many websites but that’s old data from high school. He’s still 6-4 but checks in at 190 pounds now. It’s good weight and scouts wanted/expected to see a velocity increase this year but didn’t get their wish. He’ll top at 94 but works at 90-93. That’s enough in college and would be enough in pro ball, too, if his command holds up and if the secondary pitches are strong enough.
That last point is a question. Beck showed both a plus curveball, an effective slider, and a plus change-up as a freshman. The four-pitch combo was often overwhelming for college hitters but scouts who saw him in 2018 are less enthusiastic, seeing the secondaries as more average at this point.
Sabermetrically the slippage in stuff shows up in a declining strikeout rate from 8.21 K/9 in 2016 to 7.04 this season. His hit rate also got worse, from 6.48 H/9 to 7.90. He was still effective overall but the component numbers back up the reports that his stuff was down.
The long layoff due to injury could certainly be the cause and Beck remains an attractive talent who could thrive with a fresh look of coaching eyes in pro ball. He is unlikely to be a first rounder at this stage and may not even be the first Stanford player drafted, but ultimately we’re looking at a guy with four pitches, a great body, and a track record of success even when he’s not as his best. Beck should still be a first-day pick.
Here are some highlights from his freshman year:
Here’s Perfect Game video from 2018