Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chad Beck

Chad Beck, the Bucs' new 27 year old righty, got his start at Woodville High School in Texas. He then played at Panola College, which competed at the JC level. Beck was drafted in the 43rd round in 2004 by the Toronto Blue Jays after his freshman season with the Ponies, but passed on their offer.

He returned to the community college for another season but was sidelined with elbow tendonitis. Moving on, he next signed with Louisiana at Lafayette, where he closed for the Ragin' Cajuns in 2006. The righty put up a 2-2-5/3.23 slash there, with 38 K in 30-2/3 IP, and was tossing some serious mid-nineties gas.

The Arizona Diamondbacks selected him in the 14th round of the 2006 draft, and he signed up quickly and was assigned to the short-season Yakima Bears of the Northwest League. He went 1–5/6.25 ERA in 16 outings covering 40-1/3 innings pitched. But he did average 10 K per nine innings, which helped gloss over his otherwise ho-hum peripherals.

The next season, Beck moved up to the Low Class A South Bend Silver Hawks of the Midwest League, and made 31 outings from the pen. His slash there was 1–2-1/4.33 ERA in 52 IP. His hit, walk, HR and WHIP numbers all dropped, and he still managed 8+ whiffs per game.

He started 2008 still at South Bend, and went 2–0/2.04 ERA, with 19 K in 17-2/3 IP. That earned him a promotion to High Class A Visalia of the California League. Beck became a swingman for the Oaks, appearing in 25 games,with 15 starts. He compiled a 6–5/3.98 line in 95 innings while keeping a decent K rate by punching out 89 hitters.

Someone noticed. On August 31st, Arizona traded Beck to the Blue Jays for David Eckstein. Toronto didn't assign him anywhere, being pretty much the end of the minor league campaign.

Beck's first club as a Blue Jay was Low Class A Lansing of the Midwest League, as Toronto continued his conversion to a starting pitcher. In 20 starts, Beck went 6–8/5.94 ERA for the Lug Nuts. His walk and K rate remained OK, but he was hit pretty hard, giving up 11 knocks per game.

He also got a little time with High Class A Dunedin of the Florida State League in 2009. They worked him out of the bullpen there, and the only number that he put up in the FSL worth noting was 14 K in 10-1/3 frames.

Beck spent 2010 with Dunedin, and apparently the starter experiment was put on the back burner. He became a swingman, starting 11 of his 41 outings. The righty was 3–6/3.72 ERA in 101-2/3 IP, and his peripherals were again fine, though his K rate was down to seven per game, a trend that would continue.

He started 2011 at Dunedin, but after one game was moved to Class AA New Hampshire in the Eastern League. The Blue Jays still weren't sure what role to slot Beck in; he started 14 of the 22 games he appeared in for the Fisher Cats. His slash there was 7–4/3.69 ERA in 22 games, starting 14 of them and working 95 frames. Beck was then promoted to Class AAA Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League. As a 51, he made eight starts with a slash of 2–4/6.70 ERA in 41-2/3 IP.

Despite a weak showing at the AAA level, Toronto called him up to the show in early September. Beck made his first major league appearance on September 13th. He was called on three times and worked 2-1/3 scoreless innings.The righty had spent five seasons at various A levels; suddenly in Toronto he zoomed through four classifications in one year, from High A to the big club.

Toronto apparently decided that they prefer Beck coming in from the pen and after the season sent him to the Arizona Fall League to get some work as a closer (and you think the Pirate FO has problems deciding a role for their pitchers!). He was pretty strong, pitching eight goose egg frames in the AFL, giving up just two hits and a walk with five whiffs.

Beck opened the 2012 season with the Las Vegas 51s, from where he would dizzily yo-yo back and forth with the Blue Jays. He was called up four times during the year, twice for brief durations.

At Vegas, he went 2-0-18/1.31in 43 outings with nice peripherals other than Ks, which were by now down to 4.5 per game, and was named to the 2012 Mid-Season PCL All-Star squad. With Toronto, well, not so hot. In 15-2/3 IP, he had a 6.32 ERA with nine K, five walks and 21 hits surrendered.

On October 22, 2012, the Blue Jays claimed catcher Bobby Wilson from the Angels and DFA'ed Beck. The Bucs claimed him three days later.

Beck tosses a four-seamer that hits the mid-to-upper ninties and a sinking two-seamer that's a couple of ticks less. He also throws a slider and changeup, though neither are very highly regarded. In his tiny MLB sample, he has a 49% groundball rate, though he was considered more of a flyball pitcher in the minors. His splits are scary; he's average against righties, but lefty sticks have put up a line of .323/.400/.645 with a +OPS of 152 against him.

The FO likes taking flyers on power arms, particularly when they have a large body attached to them, as Beck does with his 6'4" 255 lb. frame. But even though he's a big tree and a hard thrower, his age (27), MLB strikeout rate of six per game and split issues probably limit him at best as mid-relief or mop-up material, and it's entirely possible that he ends up nothing more than AAAA/organizational filler.

He's another guy who has been swapped out between starting and relieving his entire career, so he could just need to focus on the bullpen role. Beck has a pair of options left for the Bucs to work with if he remains on the 40-man roster, which is no sure thing.

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