Chris Beck has fallen off the radar lately, but his four-pitch arsenal may come in handy for the White Sox in 2015.
In January, 2014 Baseball America ranked Chris Beck as the 9th best prospect in the Chicago White Sox organization. Then the Sox had a sensational amateur draft day in June, adding acclaimed left-handed starting pitcher, Carlos Rodon. Beck, splitting between the Double-A Birmingham Barons and the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, posted a 3.54 ERA that season. It was a disappointment in comparison to his 2013 campaign, during which he posted 3.07 ERA playing for Advanced-A Winston-Salem and the Barons. Most concerning was Beck’s 1.47 WHIP during his time with the Knights. The right-handed starting pitcher was subsequently not included in Baseball America’s Top 10 organizational prospect rankings released in November, 2014.
Don’t Call It A Comeback
Don’t count Chris out, though. Beck caught the attention of fans and the organization when he posted a 2.89 ERA over four starts for the Barons in 2013. In 28 innings of work, Beck struck out 22 batters and walked only three. While 2014 didn’t quite live up to the hype, there is reason to be optimistic heading into 2015. Over his last six starts of the season last year, all with the Knights in Triple-A, Beck posted a 3.14 ERA. Even more encouraging is that he allowed one or zero earned runs in four of those six starts. Beck is clearly putting in the work to reinsert himself into the conversation in Chicago. Below, you can see him utilize his slider to run in on a batter for the strike out.
White Sox fans are hoping for the best out of Hector Noesi and John Danks, but the reality is there isn’t a lot of evidence to back up those hopes.
It’s no secret the top 3 starting combination of Sale, Samardzija, and Quintana is as formidable as any in the league. However, the back end of the rotation leaves a lot to be desired. White Sox fans are hoping for the best out of Hector Noesi and John Danks, but the reality is there isn’t a lot of evidence to back up those hopes. Noesi did turn in 9 quality starts over the second half of the season last year, however, his 4.92 FIP during that half was actually higher than the 4.74 FIP he posted the first half of the season, according to Fangraphs.com.
Then there’s John Danks. True, he did go 2-0 while posting a 2.16 ERA his last four starts of the year in 2014. However, he had an almost identical 5 game run in late May and early June, going 3-1 with a 1.51 ERA. I, like many Sox fans at the time, thought Danks the legitimate number 3 starter was back. He dashed those hopes and dreams, though, when he posted an unsightly 5.15 ERA in July, and a downright embarrassing 6.75 ERA in August, according to ESPN.com.
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All that is to say, the White Sox need starting pitching depth, because it is very likely someone will be called up from Charlotte to help the cause in 2015. Carlos Rodon will be added to the rotation eventually, but probably not until late in the 2015 season. He will most likely start the year in Charlotte and contribute in the bullpen when he does make the jump to Chicago. Given the current rotation’s heavy left-handed presence on the Southside, slotting in another right-hander would be wise if needed. Chris Beck might be that guy.
He boasts a low 90’s fast ball that can move into the mid 90’s and a changeup that was rated by Baseball America as the best changeup in the White Sox farm system prior to 2014. He also throws a power slider, which he referred to as “cutt-ish sometimes,” in an interview with Matt Cassidy. Rounding out his repertoire is a curveball Chris employs to, “change eye level.” He hasn’t utilized the curveball often, throwing it only 8% of the time in 2014, but when he did, batters swung and missed 25% of time, according to BrooksBaseball.net.
Beck has all the tools necessary to be a back of the rotation starter. Coincidentally, the White Sox may need one or two of those next season depending on how things shake out with Danks and Noesi. That’s why I’m picking Chris Beck to be the White Sox dark horse in 2015.