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April 24, 2017 at 9:00 AM

The Write-Up: Jalen Beeks

PORTLAND, Me.Jalen Beeks returns to Portland to start 2017 after earning a mid-season promotion from High A Salem in 2016, splitting his 132 2/3 innings nearly evenly between the two levels in 13 starts at each (67 1/3 in Salem versus 65 1/3 in Portland). Beeks took the mound in the season’s second game as the Sea Dogs took on the Reading Fightin Phils at Hadlock Field. Here’s The Write-Up on his start.

Age: 23
Height: 5-11
Weight: 195 lbs.
Throws: Left
How Acquired: Draft, 12th rd., 2014
College: Arkansas

Line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K; 84 pitches, 54 strikes (64%); 14/20 first-pitch strikes (70%); 16 swing-and-misses.

Beeks has an undersized, filled-out frame with a strong lower half. He comes at you from the first base side of the rubber with a high three-quarters arm slot. He comes set with his hands just below his belt and brings them back up with a high leg kick as he turns his back towards the hitter at the height of his delivery. As his hands break, he brings his left arm behind his back leg with a wrist hook. As he delivers, his front foot gets down early and the arm lags behind, creating added stress on the arm and making it difficult to locate. All this movement and rigidness does create deception in the delivery, and coupled with his quick arm out front makes it tough to pick up the ball out of his hand. 

Beeks features a four-pitch mix (fastball, cutter, curveball, changeup). In this outing, Beeks’ fastball sat 92-93 mph in the first and topped at 95 mph, settling in around 89-91 mph in his final four innings of work. He also threw a strong dose of cutters at 87-88 mph, working off of the fastball. Beeks picked up 11 of his 16 swing-and-misses on the fastball and cutter. The deception in his delivery and quick arm create perceived late life on the fastball and it gets on hitters quickly. Beeks’ delivery also creates issues trying to maintain a consistent release point, so he struggled to command the pitch with frequency, especially over the course of an extended outing. Overall, it’s an average-grade fastball that could play up in shorter stints out of the bullpen. 

Beeks’ off-speed offerings include two average grade offerings in his curveball and changeup. Adding these to the fastball/cutter combination allows him to pitch out of the rotation at present and get both right-handed and left-handed hitters out. The curveball showed 1-to-7 break with depth, breaking down-and-away from left-handed hitters. At its best the pitch is an average-grade offering. The changeup was 84-86 mph, thrown with the same arm speed as the fastball. It had late, arm-side fade at its best.

Overall, Beeks’ frame, arm action, and delivery profile best out of the pen. In that role, he could move quickly through the system. In shorter stints, Beeks could sit 94-95 mph with two effective off-speed pitches from the left side, allowing him to be effective against both right-handed and left-handed hitters. Beeks had the best overall arsenal in the Portland rotation that I saw in the three games scouted, but I anticipate he will have a constant struggle to maintain his effectiveness and ability to throw consistent strikes deep into a ball game and hold up over the course of 170-plus innings in a starting role. For that reason, I do like Beeks as a prospect, just moreso as a middle-innings reliever at the big league level.

Photo credit: Jalen Beeks by Kelly O'Connor.

Chaz Fiorino is Assistant Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @cbfiorino.