His sign­ing done, Beer on tap for Tri-City

Top draftee blends home run power, high con­tact rate

Houston Chronicle - - BASEBALL - By Steve Scha­ef­fer Seth Beer hit .301/.456/.642 for Clem­son this year with 22 home runs and only 36 strike­outs.

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.” steve.scha­ef­fer@chron.com twit­ter.com/scha­ef­fer­_steve

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