In a few days time, some of the best amateur baseball players in the world will hear their name called during this season’s MLB First-Year Player Draft. Between projectable High School pitchers to more refined Collegiate Hitters, each prospect offers a unique story. Arguably, Tristan Beck may have the most polarizing story in this year’s draft class.
Tristan Beck 2018 MLB Draft Profile
Tristan Beck is a Junior Right-Handed Pitcher out of Stanford University with an athletic 6’4”190-pound frame, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. An accomplished prep player, Beck fell to the 34th round in 2015 due to signing concerns over his Stanford commitment where the Brewers took a flier, yet failed to sign him. Beck’s freshman season quickly proved electric as he became only the third freshman pitcher to ever start opening day for the storied Cardinal program, following in the likes of Mike Mussina and Cal Quantrill.
The national spotlight found Beck after a stellar first year campaign to the tune of a 2.48 ERA, and 2.92 K/BB ratio over 14 starts. Pegged as a Preseason First Team All-American by Perfect Game, expectations were sky-high for Beck until a Stress Fracture in his back put the season on ice. As a draft-eligible sophomore, the New York Yankees took a chance with Beck in the 29th round but failed to sign him. Entering a junior season in which all eyes were focused on which Tristan Beck would show up, the pre-injury sensation, or the injured enigma. Beck showed glimpses of his old self, finishing with a 2.99 ERA, and an improved 8-4 record, despite worse peripheral stats. Look for Beck to go as early as the end of the first round and into the second.
Beck possesses a legitimate four-pitch arsenal, leading with one of the premier changeups in the entire class. The change sits around the mid to low 80’s with good, late arm side fade. But Beck’s consistent arm speed is what gives his change its devastating deception. Hovering around the low 90’s, touching 94, Beck’s fastball is a solid offering, yet one with serious potential as Beck grows into his frame, adding velocity under pro instruction. For a third pitch that has only recently been added to his repertoire, Beck’s curveball offers deep 12-6 movement, and the potential to be a solid strikeout pitch with development. Lastly, the slider shows some promise with decent run, and velocity.
Mechanically, Beck is fairly sound with an easy, quick delivery and a fast arm to boot. Always a command over stuff prospect, Beck’s biggest calling card is his pitchability and know-how. Few pitchers can match Beck’s pitchability, the ability to throw any of his pitches whenever and wherever, in this draft class. Additionally, Beck has been hailed for his pitching knowledge, how to set up hitters, and maximize his pitches. Reports out of Stanford have shown Beck as an outstanding teammate and competitor.
Just as Beck is a command over stuff prospect, that hinders his overall upside, especially when paired with his medical history and the risk that entails. On pure stuff alone, Beck’s upside is limited to that of a number three starter and as such teams may not be willing to take on the medical risks for a player without immense upside, which is why Beck may slide a bit in the draft. After the injury, Beck was slightly worse in nearly every category on the year, but a few very poor starts hindered his season quite a bit. Beck can sometimes lose his edge on pitches resulting in a slower fastball and flatter breaking balls that are susceptible to getting hung in the zone.
In a draft class loaded with top end college right-handed pitchers, Beck likely slots in towards the end of the second tier after prospects like Jackson Kowar and Logan Gilbert, or at the top of the third tier ahead of Sean Hjelle and Blaine Knight. Beck offers a solid four-pitch mix, some of the best pitchability in the draft and the know-how to continue getting hitters out.
If teams can look past the injury, look for Beck to be a relatively fast riser through the minors will refining his stuff and growing into his frame to add velocity. The Yankees felt confident enough in Beck to take him last season, despite being injured the entire season. As such, the earliest Beck could go would be at No. 23 to the Yankees, but it is far more likely he slides to the sandwich round or the beginning of round two. MLB.com has Beck at No. 35 in their draft prospect rankings.
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