HOUSTON -- Just as Astros Draft pick Seth Beer, taken with the No. 28 overall pick out of Clemson on Monday, was wrapping up his conference call with reporters, Astros owner Jim Crane popped on the line and welcomed Beer to the organization.
"Well, thank you so much for the opportunity," Beer said. "It's truly a blessing and an honor. I'm so grateful and super excited."
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Beer repeated the word "excited" several times during his interview, and for good reason. The defending World Series champions have high hopes for Beer, an outfielder who became the first freshman to win the Dick Howser Trophy, presented to the collegiate national player of the year, in 2016.
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A polished left-handed hitter with a controlled swing, Beer hit .301 with 22 homers, 54 RBIs and a .456 on-base percentage in his junior year at Clemson. He walked 54 times and struck out just 36 times in showing remarkable plate discipline. In his career at Clemson, he drew 180 walks and struck out 98 times in 188 games.
"Seth Beer is one of the premier college baseball players in the country and has been for the past three years, and even before that was one of the premier high school players in the country," Astros assistant general manager for player acquisition Mike Elias said. "So this is somebody we've been watching a lot over the past four to five years. He has a track record of production that is historic in terms of his college career and is hard for us to ignore."
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Elias said Beer can play both corner-outfield positions, as well as first base, but Elias said Beer would likely move around at the beginning of his professional career. He played mostly right field in college. Astros scout Gavin Dickey said Beer has a Major League average arm that could improve.
"In today's game, there's a lot of value being placed on positional versatility, and certainly the ability to play some outfield and some first base will be something that he'll want to maintain in his skillset," Elias said.
Beer burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2016 when he hit .369 with 18 homers, 13 doubles, 70 RBIs, 57 runs, 62 walks, 15 hit by pitches, a .535 on-base percentage and .700 slugging percentage in 62 games at Clemson. He didn't duplicate those gaudy numbers the next two years but still controlled the zone and hit for power.
"His skills remain the same," Elias said. "Obviously, with the reputation he built up, he was pitched to much more carefully, and one thing we like at about him is he's not one to expand the zone or chase pitches that he shouldn't be. He was taking what was coming to him. All three of his years, to us, were elite, as far as production."
Beer, who grew up idolizing Chipper Jones, said he eats and sleeps baseball. So much so that he says his television is always on MLB Network. He also watched "every game, every pitch" of the World Series.
"To get the call from the defending World Series champs is an incredible opportunity and I'm just so excited," Beer said. "You just look at some of the guys they have, not only on their staff but their lineup, I'm just so honored and grateful to be a part of that."
The slot value for the No. 28 overall pick is $2,339,400.
In the second round, the Astros took high school right-hander Jayson Schroeder of Kirkland, Wash., at No. 66 overall. At 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, Schroeder is strong and physically mature. His fastball sits at 91-92 and consistently hits 93-95. He commands the fastball and has a solid curve, as well as a slider, allowing him to overpower high school hitters.
Schroeder has committed to the University of Washington, but the No. 66 overall pick comes with a slot value of $965,300 that the Astros will use to try to sign him to a pro contract.