Feb 22, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Chris Beck (71) poses for a photo during photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
In between signings this offseason, I’d like to take a look at our young, new talent that will be coming to Chicago within the next few years. While the White Sox farm system in the past has been questionable at best, I feel our minor league prospects now are very talented and show how bright the future is for the team.
While you won’t find this guy on many top prospect lists, he is still a solid Minor League arm with plenty of experience, and will have an opportunity in Chicago at least some point this year, or next. Here’s a first look at Charlotte Knight pitcher, Chris Beck.
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Originally drafted in the 35th round by the Cleveland Indians, Beck decided to go back to school. He attended Georgia Southern University. His sophomore year, he posted a 3.23 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 103 innings, garnering attention from a lot of major league teams, including the White Sox. He was even considered a top-10 pick at one point after his Sophomore year. Despite an average Junior season, his walk rate was down, strikeout rate up, and teams were still very interested. Lucky for the Sox, he ended up going in the second round in the 2012 Amateur Draft.
Next stop, the Great Falls Voyagers, a team in the Pioneer League at the Advanced Rookie Level.
Beck pitched okay in Great Falls, finishing 4-3 with a 4.69 ERA and 1.56 WHIP in 15 appearances (6 starts). Not the best start to his young career, but he quickly made up for it the following season. Let’s chalk up his first attempt at minor league pitching to rookie nerves. Regardless of the rough start, the team decided to promote him to the Winston-Salem Dash. He would serve as a starter for his whole term there.
In 21 starts with Winston-Salem, Beck turned it all around, finishing with an 11-8 record and an impressive 3.11 ERA and 12 quality starts. His K/9, while never very high, was a career low 4.3, so he wasn’t missing many bats, but still getting the ground outs and fly balls he needed. On August 2nd, Beck was moved to AA Birmingham. A week later, he made his debut.
Beck started pitching for Birmingham on August 9th, and finished the Minor League season with the team less than a month later. In his short stint with the team, Beck pitched well, going 2-2 in 5 starts with a 2.89 ERA, and no home runs allowed in 28 innings. Despite the nice effort to finish the season, the team felt they didn’t see enough in Birmingham, and he stayed with the team to start the 2014 season.
Fast forward to 2014.
Back with the Barons, Chris continued his success early in the season. While his record doesn’t reflect it, don’t let that fool you. In 20 starts, Beck had a 5-8 record, but had a very nice 3.39 ERA in 116.2 innings and had 10 quality starts. Unfortunately, the strikeouts were still not there, and he finished with 57. Even though Beck gives up a lot of contact, he has either been extremely lucky, or he’s an excellent locator in order to keep the ball in the park, and in the glove (7 home runs allowed with Birmingham in 2014).
Time for his last step to continue improving before ultimately being called up to the big leagues.
Beck was called up to the Charlotte Knights on June 26 for one start, then was sent back to AA after a rough outing. He was eventually recalled to AAA permanently on July 29th. In 7 starts, Chris went 1-3 with a 4.05 ERA with just two quality starts in 33.1 innings. While probably his least inspiring effort since with the Great Falls Voyagers, there were some good signs. Beck finished with 28 strikeouts, and brought his K/9 to a solid 7.6. He also had a very nice 3.42 FIP with Charlotte. While impressive, his short time in AAA makes his numbers way too small of a sample size to truly judge.
Beck will likely start the 2015 season with AAA, and could be called up midway through the season, or possibly a September call-up.
Chris Beck stands at 6’3″ and weighs in the 220’s. Now 24, Chris is one of the more experienced rookies in the Sox farm system. He has 4 pitches (fastball, slider, curveball, changeup). Beck’s fastball averages in the upper to mid-90’s, a slider in the low 80’s, and his changeup and curveball in the same range.
Like I said, expect Chris to be involved in the rotation, or the bullpen sometime in 2015 if he has a good season in Charlotte. The Sox can really use a RHP at the moment, so Beck can eventually be that guy. I don’t see him as being a front line rotation guy, but he has potential to be in the middle of the rotation for many years with his solid fastball and nice variety of off-speed pitches. However, he does have to work on his swing and miss pitching, or else hitters will have a lot of fun with him in the hitter-friendly park that is the Cell.
Be ready to hear his name called sometime later next year.