His signing done, Beer on tap for Tri-City
Top draftee blends home run power, high contact rate
Though terms weren’t officially disclosed, Minute Maid Park got a taste of its priciest Beer on Wednesday.
Seth Beer, the Astros’ firstround draft pick out of Clemson, agreed to his first professional contract and was introduced by assistant general manager Mike Elias. This year’s slot value for the 28th overall pick was $2,399,400.
“This is something I’ve dreamt about my whole life,” said Beer, who flew to Houston from his home in Georgia earlier in the day to take his physical and sign his deal. “I was hitting until 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning as a kid growing up or even throughout college, and those are the things that drive you. To finally be sitting there in the shoes I’ve dreamt of for so long is an incredible feeling.
“To go to an organization like Houston is just an incredible experience. I watched every single one of the World Series games. Getting that call on draft day and being told you’re going to get drafted by the Houston Astros, the World Series champs, is just a surreal feeling.”
The Astros won last year’s World Series as a team blending frequent home runs with infrequent strikeouts. Beer, a lefthanded batter, fits that bill. In 188 games over three college seasons, he hit .321 with 56 homers, 177 RBIs and 180 walks while fanning 98 times in 647 at-bats. As a junior this year, he hit 22 homers and drove in 54 runs while striking out just 36 times in 226 at-bats and drawing 54 walks. His slash line was .301/ .456/.642.
So is he a contact hitter or a power hitter?
“Part of our attraction to him is there’s not one that outstrips the other,” Elias said. “We feel that he is plus in both regards. This guy is a hitter with power. He’s a power guy who can also hit. Very difficult to find, and it’s something we value very highly in this organization — the ability to hit for power without striking out and the ability to draw walks. He has done that as well as anyone in college baseball, and we expect that to continue in pro ball.”
The 6-3, 195-pound All-American admitted “every time I try to hit a home run, it usually never works out. So I’m always just trying to do damage with pitches that I can handle and not trying to swing out of the zone or be too aggressive and just trying to stay patient. And I think that gets me in a situation or a good count to get a good pitch that I can handle to put out of the yard.”
Beer will report to the Astros’ Class A Tri-City ValleyCats in Troy, N.Y., on Thursday. In addition to corner outfield duty, his primary job in college, Beer also is likely to see some time at first base in the minors.
“I want to do whatever I can to have some flexibility with whatever the team needs at whatever level I’m at,” he said. “I’m going to do whatever’s asked of me.”
Elias said it’s too early to know if Beer can take as fast a track to the majors as Alex Bregman, who was drafted second overall out of LSU in 2015 and reached the majors in July of the next year. The assistant GM noted several differences and similarities between two players he referred to as “college superstars.”
“They’re used to the big stage,” Elias said. “Those programs have done a good job of preparing players for professional baseball, for major league baseball. So having that experience and the Team USA experience behind them is always a help. Alex was a shortstop; Seth has been a corner outfielder and a corner infielder, so there’s some differences defensively. Alex is a righthanded hitter, contact guy with some power, good runner. Seth’s more of the slugger mold.
“But in terms of having gotten to know both kids, talking to their coaches, (they’re) very similar in regard to the makeup and the mental approach they bring to the game, which is huge and for us is a big part of our evaluation process. We like guys that are wired to win, wired to work hard, team-oriented guys, and both Alex and Seth fit that mold.”
And what about his last name? Beer, who wasn’t legally old enough to drink until last September, acknowledged that fans have had their share of fun with it.
“Opposing fans probably have the best go at it,” he said. “It’s fun. You’ve got to play with it. People enjoy it. You’ve just got to laugh about it.
“As a young kid, I didn’t know what brew meant. People started calling me Brew Crew, and I had no idea what that meant. That was one that kind of stuck with me a little bit even into college. Guys would call me Brew.”
Asked if the Astros were tripping over themselves in coming up with possible ballpark promotions, Elias said he would leave that to the marketing department.
“We don’t care what his last name is,” Elias said. “We’re just focused on his baseball ability, and we’re very well impressed with that. So we’ll take him if he’s Smith, Jones or Beer.
“I do think if and when he gets up here, we might have some extra jerseys to sell.” email@example.com twitter.com/schaeffer_steve