One of the biggest stories coming from the minor league system this season has been the emergence of Brandon Beachy. Plenty has been said on the pitcher and you may have already read some of what I will write, but this isn’t just an informative post but also something to spark discussion on Beachy for those who have seen him pitch or know more about him.
Beachy joined the Braves as an undrafted free agent out of Indiana Wesleyan. It is said he wasn’t totally devoted to starting or relieving then because of injury or whatnot, though he had the potential to be a solid reliever. He began at Rome in 2009 as a reliever and did well, posting a 2.47 FIP with four walks and 17 strikeouts in 18 innings. Luckily the Braves overlooked the high ERA and moved him quickly to Myrtle Beach, where he posted a 3.06 FIP in 59 innings, walking 15 and striking out 47. Beachy wasn’t exactly on many radars to end the season and was considered another relief arm in the system.
However, 2010 has put Beachy on the map. He began at Mississippi as a reliever and recorded a 1.40 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 39 innings. That earned him a shot at the rotation and that is when he became known to Braves fans. He ended his tour with AA with a 1.47 ERA and 2.35 FIP, walking 22 and striking out 100 in 73.2 innings. That’s a 11.95 K/9. He earned a promotion to Gwinnett recently and has made three starts and four total appearances, posting a 3.27 ERA with three walks and 23 strikeouts. He has 25 walks and 123 strikeouts in 95.2 innings between AA and AAA this season.
As an undrafted free agent, Beachy faces plenty of skepticism. But with each start, it seems more like a result of his surroundings and less like bad scouting to overlook him. He is now dedicated to pitching and is receiving top notch coaching, and is meeting his potential as a result. You can’t blame scouts for overlooking a pitcher with a history of shoulder tendinitis and didn’t look to possess much at the time, but luckily the Braves didn’t pass on him and we could very well reap the benefits. These things happen.
Beachy has been clocked at 94 MPH and I will venture to say he has added velocity since signing with the Braves. He has a plus curveball, though many say it could be plus-plus, and adds a changeup. He possesses a reliever’s mentality with the stuff to be a starter as long as he is able to use his third pitch. Beachy is also built well and has a projectable body, working with a strong lower half.
Some will continue to question Beachy’s value because of where he came from, but you can’t ignore what he has accomplished in such a short amount of time. It’s also hard to argue that he’s riding an extended hot streak and this is a fluke because a 2.31 BB/9 and 11.37 K/9 between AA and AAA in 97 innings isn’t flukish. He has the stuff to do what he’s doing. My one and only concern is whether Beachy can do it as a starter over a full season, which is something that has yet to be seen. We may not get a chance to if the Braves carry him on the roster next season at some point. At his current pace, I would not be surprised to see him make the team out of Spring Training.
No matter the stuff, Beachy has been a very pleasant surprise to the Braves this season and has brought excitement to fans of the system. It will be interesting to see where he is placed on prospect lists in the offseason and whether one season is enough to make him skyrocket into the top 15 or 20. As for mine, he is making a strong case to go top 20.