Name: Tyler Beede
Born: May 23, 1993 (21), Auburn, Massachusetts
Height/Weight: 6'4", 215 pounds
School: Vanderbilt University (Tennessee)
Though he played football for three years and basketball for one, Tyler Beede excelled on the baseball diamond. It's in his blood, after all, as his father, Walter Beede, was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1981. As the captain of the prestigious Lawrence Academy baseball team in his senior year, he received all kinds of awards and was named to various top prospect lists by Under Armour, Baseball America, Rawlings, USA Today, Louisville Slugger and ESPN, among others. And they were well deserved, as he went 14-1 with a 0.80 ERA and an unbelievable 189 strikeouts in 96.1 innings.
As a result, the Toronto Blue Jays drafted the young right-hander in the 2011 MLB Draft. This wasn't a tenth-round pick gamble, or a favor to someone by drafting their kid in the 50th round; Beede was selected with the Blue Jays' first-round draft pick, the 21st overall player to be selected. He was drafted directly in front of Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, and top Twins prospect Alex Meyer. According to reports, Beede was looking for upwards of $3 million to sign with Toronto, while the Blue Jays were not interested in offering the 18-year-old more than $2.4 million. Because the two sides could not reach each other and smooth out that roughly $500,000 gap, Beede decided to attend Vanderbilt University.
At first, it would have seemed that rejecting Toronto's offer over $500,000 was one of the worst decisions in his young life. His collegiate career got off on the wrong foot, as he allowed nine runs (five earned) in his Vanderbilt debut and was very up-and-down for the rest of the season, spinning decent games with the same frequency as clunkers, shuttling back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen as needed. Overall, the 4.52 ERA in roughly 70 innings was a disappointment, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio of roughly 1-to-1 was highly concerning.
Maybe he was experiencing culture shock and/or homesickness and needed an adjustment period. Maybe some of the work that he put in while school was out took hold. Maybe, having experience his first real bout of adversity, he started taking hitters more seriously. Whatever the case, Beede was a different pitcher in his sophomore year.
While he still struggled with his command, walking 63 batters in 101 innings, Beede simply was a lot more dominant than he had been as a freshman, pitching to the tune of a 2.32 ERA and striking out 103 batters. He went 14-1 that year, winning fourteen games in a row before being tagged with his first and only loss during his last start of the year. Named Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year by the NCAA, an All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association, Perfect Game USA, and Baseball America, and a finalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award, Beede was very much back in the top prospect discussion. Still, despite all of the accolades, there were two pretty extreme red flags in his stat line: 14 wild pitches and 5.6 walks per nine innings.
His 2014 season started off well, as he struck out five and walked only one in a five inning against Long Beach State and set a career high 11 strikeouts in his next start against UIC, but he was unable to keep the good times rolling. It's not that Beede pitched poorly, but he was a bit more hittable, giving up more hits and home runs than he did in 2013, in fewer innings. On the positive side, he was able to trim his walk rate slightly, walking only 4.1 batters per nine as a junior, while maintaining the same strikeout rate.
Though the results have been so-so, scouts still see a lot of projectibility in his big 6'4", 215-pound frame. With a plus fastball and two legitimate secondary pitches, Beede remains a first round pick, likely to be selected somewhere in the middle of the round. If baseball doesn't work out for him, he already has a second career lined up to go: Beede is ready to take the rap world by storm, having already produced eight singles under his nom de guerre, Young Beedah. Regardless of whether or not he succeeds in baseball, we can only hope that he, Trevor Bauer, Trevor May, and Lastings Milledge team up to form a rap supergroup of baseball top prospects.
What The Scouts Think
Beede has an easy three-quarters delivery, but his release point sometimes get jumbled, depending on the pitch and whether or not he is laboring, as he has a tendency to start lifting his arm and throwing more overhand, depending on his stamina, as a means to generate additional velocity by giving the ball more downward momentum.
Beede's fastball sits in the low 90s, but he can ratchet it up to 97 miles per hour with ease. Because he is an athletic young man, he should have the arm strength and durability to keep the velocity up throughout games and throughout the season and might even be able to increase both with some added muscle. When throwing it down in the zone, it has decent movement, though the higher he elevates it, the less movement it has. He has a good head for pitching, and knows how and when to mix in his secondary pitches—a trait he has exhibited since high school, which might be why those pitches are very well developed.
The change is his best secondary, clocking in in the high 70s or low 80s, giving it as much as a 20 mile-per-hour difference from the fastball. It has good sink and good fade and is a legitimate plus pitch. The curveball is still a work in progress, but it has a lot of potential. It has hard 11-to-5 downward break with tight spin, but because it is somewhat inconsistent, it needs the most work.
The biggest problem with all of those pitches is Beede's ability to command them, particularly the curveball if it is going to be a legitimate pitch in his repertoire. Though he has been able to mitigate the problem because of his ability to get hitters to strike out, the young right-hander spots a career walk rate of 4.65 per nine. On the intangibles side of things, Beede is known as a great clubhouse guy. He has a big, effervescent personality that teammates and opponents can't get enough of.
What Alex Nelson Thinks
I'm not going to beat around the bush; I'm not a Beede fan, though I certainly understand why some are. I mean, for one thing there's the frame: he's big, he's strong, he looks durable. For another, there's the fastball. Ninety-six miles-per-hour goes a long way. And he can show one hell of a changeup (good arm speed, nice fade) with a hard roundhouse curve for accompaniment. The stuff is great.
Unfortunately, his control, though improved, is still just average at best, and the command lags behind. He can be hit, and with that kind of stuff that shouldn't be the case, even in the SEC. Mechanically, his biggest issue is a slow tempo and a short stride that forces his arm to do much of the heavy lifting when he throws. Speeding things up and lengthening his stride could help his command, but otherwise I'd be at a loss as to what to fix. Furthermore, he has a big personality that could be a plus or a negative, depending on who you talk to.
"There have been plenty of pitchers who have struggled with their command when they were younger and turned out fine, and Beede will likely be added to that list."
"Love the way he has developed his leadership skills and developed as a man. Tyler has a very good understanding of `team' and the building of individual relationships. He is very respected by his teammates for his servant behavior, the effort he puts toward other players and his investment level into the game. He will have the opportunity to stay in this game for a while."
—Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt Commodores head coach