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2017 Red Sox top prospect voting: Can Jalen Beeks stick as a starter?

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Jalen Beeks has some talent, but can he prove he’s consistent enough to stick as a starter?

Kelly O’Connor; https://sittingstill.smugmug.com/

We’re back to nail-biters as there are a seemingly infinite number of equally matched Red Sox prospects at this point in the voting. Despite the close vote, we narrowly avoided the tie yet again with Jalen Beeks taking 17 percent of the vote and winning by one vote.

Beeks, a southpaw, was taken by the Red Sox back in 2014 with their 12th round pick. The Arkansas University product wasn’t exactly a highly-regarded prospect at the time, but he’s worked his way up the system well since joining the organization. He only got to throw five innings over two starts against GCL competition the year he was drafted, but his 8/0 K/BB ratio was enough to earn him a full-season promotion the following year. He would end up spending all of the 2015 season in Greenville, not impressing but not imploding either. He pitched to a 4.32 ERA over 145 23 innings in 26 starts. Although he didn’t really show great strikeout stuff (6.2 K/9), he demonstrated strong control (1.7) that good pitchers need to show at the lowest levels.

This performance was enough for Beeks to get the promotion to Salem for the next season. While the fast track can be an option for college pitchers like him, his year-per-level pace was pretty good for a 12th rounder. As it turned out, things sped up a bit last year. Beeks did extremely well with the jump to High-A, pitching to a 3.07 ERA over 67 13 innings. That was enough to get him a promotion to Portland for the second half of the year. The jump to Double-A proved slightly more difficult. While he had his highest full-season strikeout rate with the Sea Dogs (7.7 K/9), he had issues with walks (3.9 BB/9) and run prevention (4.68 ERA). Still, he showed some flashes that he could handle the level, at least.

The real issue here is whether or not Beeks can stick as a starter in the long-term. The problem, as it is for some potential relievers, isn’t the stuff. Beeks has three pitches, with his fastball topping out in the mid-90’s and grading out as potentially above-average. He also has a solid changeup that could be above-average and a slider that is more than capable of working in the majors. Despite the repertoire, he has something of a violent delivery to go with a small stature. The simple nature of a major-league rotation role might be a bit much.

He’ll try to prove that wrong starting this year. It’s expected that Beeks will begin the year in Portland’s rotation as arguably its most talented arm. If he pitches well, he’ll end up in Pawtucket by mid-year. Whether that’s in their rotation or in their bullpen remains to be seen, but if he can continue building his stuff and improve his control from last year he’s a major-league arm.

  1. Andrew Benintendi
  2. Rafael Devers
  3. Jason Groome
  4. Sam Travis
  5. Bobby Dalbec
  6. Brian Johnson
  7. Marco Hernandez
  8. Roniel Raudes
  9. Michael Chavis
  10. C.J. Chatham
  11. Josh Ockimey
  12. Nick Longhi
  13. Travis Lakins
  14. Mike Shawaryn
  15. Jake Cosart
  16. Jalen Beeks

As always, you can continue voting in the poll below.