The 2014 MLB draft is quickly approaching and teams are putting together last minute strategies and draft boards. Last season, the Tampa Bay Rays had a pitcher with big stuff, but many questions in Ryne Stanek fall to them at 29th overall, and they decided the potential reward outweighed the risk. This year, the Rays will have the 20th overall pick in the 1st round. Will a similar player with outstanding stuff, but huge questions in Tyler Beede fall to them?
Beede was the 21st overall pick back in 2011, but he passed up a $2.5 million contract to attend baseball powerhouse Vanderbilt University. I have heard about Beede having outstanding stuff, but also horrendous command at times. So last night to get my own opinion own him, I went out to Vanderbilt’s NCAA regional game against Xavier. The stuff is definitely there. Beede has a plus fastball that sits in the 92-95 MPH range and has nice bite on it. When he needs to, he does a great job of elevating it and can bring its speed up to 97-98 MPH. His changeup is his best pitch, and was plus-plus at times. It was tough to distinguish from the fastball, and had nice late downward movement. He also threw a curveball that was well above-average, but also inconsistent. Scouts also say he throws a slider, but to me it looked more like a cutter. Regardless, he will rarely need to throw it thanks to his other pitches, but he can use it to ensure hitters keep the pitch in the back of their minds. Basically, Beede has all the pitches need to be a very good no. 2 starter in the big leagues.
Like everyone says, the problem is Beede’s command. But, I did not realize just how much of a problem it was. Beede didn’t just miss the zone occasionally, he was constantly working from behind in the count the entire night. He also was not throwing balls that were just missing the zone, rather his pitches missed by a wide margin way too often. The biggest issue with this is that his pitching mechanics are not particularly erratic, and he doesn’t have any huge glaring issues that would indicate poor command. Therefore, it is going to be tough to fix. Sometimes teams will draft a pitcher knowing that they can make a certain mechanical tweak and fix his command. But with Beede, there isn’t a huge issue that screams “fixing me will fix my command.”
Going into the game, I thought there was no way that Beede would fall all the way to the Rays at 20th, but now I believe that there’s a chance. You can have all the stuff in the world, but having no command is a big problem. With this class being plenty deep on college and high school pitchers, there are many more safer picks than Beede that don’t sacrifice much upside. It will only take one team to think they can fix Beede’s command, and that’s why he could be drafted anywhere from within the top 10 to outside the top 25. If he does fall to the Rays, they will give a hard look at the righty. The club normally doesn’t shy away from taking risky picks in the draft, especially if they have the upside of Beede. It wouldn’t be too far off from the Stanek pick last year, though the Rays did have an additional 1st round pick that helped minimize their total risk.
There still is a good chance that Beede is gone by the Rays’ pick, but after what I saw on Friday I believe there is a chance he falls that far. His stuff is outstanding, but his command is a major issue and there is no obvious way to fix it. If he does fall to the Rays, they will seriously consider the upside of the righty. We will just have to wait and see what happens come draft day.