Beck's poise and flair standing out at Rockies camp

March 4th, 2024

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies are taking more reps to see how close potential power-hitting outfielder is to the Majors.

Beck, 21, was selected 35th overall in the 2022 MLB Draft and currently ranks at No. 81 on the MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospects list. He entered Monday batting .467 (7-for-15) with a double and a triple. He has struck out six times, but the hits and his one walk have pushed his on-base percentage to .500.

The Rockies have started Beck just once, but he has played 15 defensive innings in right field, 12 in center and seven in left. Last year in his first full season, Beck hit in key lineup spots for High-A Spokane and Double-A Hartford, finishing his 126 combined games with an .867 OPS, 25 home runs, 91 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 25 attempts.

Off the field, he has impressed coaches with his preparation and disciplined approach to hitting. On the field, he has shown he can wing it -- a trait that may be useful in case he gets called into Major League duty and isn’t starting immediately.

“You just take it as a Wiffle ball game -- go up there and try to have fun with it,” Beck said.

The Rockies have kept an eye for big hitters with powerful swings at the top of recent Drafts and international-signing periods. Top picks Zac Veen (2020) and Benny Montgomery (2021), as well as Cuban signing Yanquiel Fernandez (2019) were teenagers with upside. Beck, drafted from the University of Tennessee, is displaying a swagger to go with skills at a much earlier stage of his career.

“There’s a self-assurance of his ability,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “We called him up last year from Minor League camp. Now he’s here every day.

“I like the strength to the swing. There’s power in there. There’s a guy that recognizes the strike zone for a big fellow [listed at 6-feet-3, 225 pounds] with some power. He can run. Defensively, he’s done fine. We’re going to keep him here for a little bit, keep our eyes on him.”

Beck plays a game that you can’t take your eyes off of, and he welcomes all of that. There’s a famous video of him giving, shall we say, an avian salute to the Georgia Tech outfield while rounding first after a big double. He has since kept his finger down, but he hasn’t tramped down the inner fire -- a trait the Rockies liked and took into account before selecting him.

“I find that more fun, when it's just a little bit more chippy,” said Beck, an expected participant in the Rockies’ Spring Breakout game against the Diamondbacks on March 16. “That stems from playing basketball and football at an early age -- a lot of it is a different way of competing than baseball. You learn to do it in a more uniform way, but you find ways to do it.”

Beck said football, which he played as a quarterback, may have been his best sport, but he broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot twice and stopped playing in his freshman year. He stayed with basketball through his time at Hazel Green (Ala.) High School -- a program that also produced current Utah Jazz player Kira Lewis Jr.

So there’s baseball acumen, athletic ability and a valuable edge.

“From a big league standpoint, it’s critical -- you don’t want milk-and-cookies guys,” Rockies player development director Chris Forbes said. “It’s all manageable, and he’s very confident in what he does and what he’s trying to do. He’s got a really good plan on how to accomplish that.

“You see him in the batting cage. You see him in his defensive sessions. He stays very present, which shows you he knows this is a process. He’s maybe not totally finished off yet to get the debut, but he’s planning on it.”