Beck biding his time with torrid start in Triple-A

April 19th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Thomas Harding’s Rockies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

DENVER -- MLB Pipeline No. 73 and Rockies No. 4 prospect accepted the Rockies’ Abby Greer Award as the top player in Spring Training on March 24, and the countdown to his Major League debut began.

The sounds of the countdown grew loud immediately, when Beck homered in two of Triple-A Albuquerque’s first three games, and it’s still going strong. Beck is celebrating his 23rd birthday today, but he began the celebration Thursday night by going 4-for-5 with one home run, two doubles and five RBIs in a 10-2 victory over El Paso.

Even though the Rockies are off to the worst 19-game start in their history at 4-15, they don’t have to throw Beck into their Major League outfield until they see it necessary.

Nolan Jones and Brenton Doyle, rookies last year, occupy two spots; veterans Charlie Blackmon and Kris Bryant (currently injured) see outfield time, as do Michael Toglia and Sean Bouchard. But Beck -- batting leadoff in Albuquerque manager Pedro Lopez’s lineup to give him as many opportunities as possible -- is hitting .328 with a 1.157 OPS. He can play all three outfield spots.

How much longer might it take for him to reach the big leagues?

“I honestly would like to get there as soon as I can get there,” said Beck, who was selected out of the University of Tennessee as the 38th overall pick in the 2022 Draft. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you that every day I’m sitting here thinking about it. I just want to go out there and play ball and when it happens, it happens.”

Beck’s willingness to wait for the phone call rather than obsess about it points to a calmness that should make him not just a callup but a starter and possibly a standout.

“He’s a talent,” said Rockies hitting coach Hensley Meulens, who noted that he and the Rockies’ staff watch every game either live or on video, and manager Bud Black does a weekly call with the Albuquerque staff. “At the moment, he’s got to master that league, then we’ll see what happens. And we’ll see what happens here with playing time.

“He’s advanced. He’s got a swagger about him that doesn’t let him fail.”

Albuquerque hitting coach Jordan Pacheco said: “If I can say anything, it’s that he’s mature for his age and how he handles situations. He’s been in some big situations for us and hasn’t come through. He’s been in some big situations and has come through. And he’s the same guy after each one of those.”

Beck put himself on the fast track last season by dominating at High-A Spokane, hitting .292 with a .566 slugging percentage and 20 home runs in 76 games. But after advancing to Double-A Hartford, he hit .240 with five homers and tallied 71 strikeouts in 50 games -- after logging just 71 strikeouts in 76 games at Spokane.

This season, he is not only putting up big extra-base numbers (five homers, two triples, six doubles and 19 RBIs), but he has a .419 on-base percentage and is striking out exactly once a game through 16 contests. Also, Beck went into Thursday’s games with 17 of the 42 batted balls he put in play having an exit velocity greater than 100 mph.

So Beck addresses the swing-and-miss component, but not at the expense of doing damage.

“I have times where I clearly do a lot of damage and I still swing and miss,” Beck said. “And often I have times where I don’t swing and miss much at all and I don’t hit that well. Obviously, I want to be more consistent, but I think I’m right where I need to be.”