D-backs prospect Seth Beer used lost 2020 season to fine-tune skills at 1B
The 2020 MLB season will forever have an asterisk next to it due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And for prospects still trying to get to The Show, last season was almost like a state of limbo without the ability to play minor league baseball across the country.
“I think it was tough for a lot of guys throughout a lot of different levels,” Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Seth Beer told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Wednesday. “For the guys that are coming up through the systems, in some aspects, it’s like a stall period. That year was like you pressed pause and now you’re trying to resume it. So you kind of have to take it with a grain of salt.
“If you did get to play, it was just against your teammates — thankfully I was in that category. But for three or four months, you’re playing in Arizona against your own teammates doing intrasquads over and over and over. It can get a little tough at some points. But for me, I think it builds a lot of character and mental toughness through those situations. Definitely something no one was expecting when it comes to baseball.”
Beer came over from the Astros in the blockbuster deal that sent starting pitcher Zack Greinke to Houston at the deadline in 2019.
After three seasons at Clemson, the outfielder/first baseman was selected No. 18 overall in the 2018 MLB Draft by the Astros. And in his only two seasons of minor league ball (A and AA levels) from 2018-19, Beer is slashing .294/.388./508 to go along with 38 doubles, 38 homers and 145 RBI in 189 games (710 at-bats).
But in 2020, minor league players were only able to get work in via intrasquad scrimmages. So for a player like Beer who may have gotten called up for the first time during a full season, last year was used to hone in on the finer details for when the 24-year-old finally does get his chance.
“I swung the bat pretty good, I was really happy about that,” Beer said of his 2020 intrasquad season. “But honestly the ultimate goal for me at the alternate site was to continue to learn the position of first base. And that’s where I feel like I made some huge strides that I needed to. When I came over here to the D-backs, they wanted to further teach me how to play first base and give me that opportunity.
“For me, that whole alternate site experience was really based around learning that position and getting better, added to one day maybe down the road I can help the team in that aspect. For me, that was the ultimate goal, so I would definitely take it as 2020 for me was a huge success on a bunch of different levels.”
Beer hopes he can one day be the everyday starting first baseman for the Diamondbacks. However, the former Clemson Tiger can also play left field as well and is willing to play anywhere on the diamond just as long as it helps his team win.
“I would definitely say that first base fits the mold of what I am as a player and what I can be in the future,” he said. “I think that’s why I was so excited when I came over here and they gave me that opportunity. This is where I think I can really make an impact and help the Diamondbacks at some point bring some wins to the table.
“If I need to play left, if I need to play anywhere on the diamond to help us win, I’m willing to do whatever it takes. When I think about it, I think first base is hopefully a position that I play for a long time.”
Now looking ahead to the 2021 season, the left-handed hitter has a slimmer physique and is going to finally have his first full spring training in a Diamondbacks uniform.
“I lost a little bit of weight just trying to lean out to get a little bit more mobility going left to right,” Beer said. “For me, it’s just going out there and playing my best game.
“Doing anything I can do to put myself in a position to make the team better in whatever role that is. … Just play the game and do the things that Torey (Lovullo) has talked about that I can do. … If I do those things, I feel like I’ll be where I want to be at the end of the day.”
Barring significant changes, Christian Walker will be the starting first baseman for the 2021 D-backs come Opening Day.
The right-handed hitter will turn 30 years old next month and has been Arizona’s everyday 1B for each of the last two seasons, giving Beer a blueprint of what Lovullo expects from the position. Since getting the starting nod from the manager, Walker has hit 36 home runs, 44 doubles and knocked in 107 runs in 747 at-bats. He’s also slashing .262/.344/.471 while playing in 209 of the team’s 222 games in the last two years (94%).