2017 Draft Preview: OF Austin Beck

Austin Beck

School: North Davidson (N.C.) HS
Position: Outfielder
Height/Weight: 5-11, 175 lbs
B/T: R/R
D.O.B: 11/21/1998
Previously Drafted: N/A

Scouting Reports:

“Beck generates well-above-average bat speed from the right side of the plate. Some evaluators put similar grades on his speed and arm strength, though the consensus is that those tools are more plus than plus-plus. He should be a solid defender as well, though his instincts draw mixed reviews and he may wind up in right field rather than center.

The one thing Beck doesn’t have is a history of solving quality pitching while swinging a wood bat. Some scouts worry that there’s a lot going on his swing and believe he’ll have to streamline it. If he hits and taps into his power, he has 25-25 potential and should become a star.” – MLB Pipeline

“Beck looks like Mike Trout — not Trout at 17, but Trout today — with huge bat speed and a plus arm, but there’s effort to his game, and no one has seen him play with a wood bat or face good pitching.” – Keith Law (ESPN Insider)

Scouting Grades (Via MLB Pipeline):

Hit: 50
Power: 55
Run: 60
Arm: 60
Field: 55

Overall: 55

Prospect Overview and Future Outlook:

Austin Beck hails from Lexington, NC and is an 18-year old high school outfielder for North Davidson High School. FutureSox has already profiled outfielders like Jeren Kendall from Vanderbilt and prep star Jo Adell, and Beck certainly joins the ranks as a toolsy outfielder. The difference with Beck is that his game has a little more polish than Adell and his swing seems to be absent of the mechanical concerns plaguing Kendall.

Beck tore his ACL last May, which kept him out of action for pivotal showcase circuits. Such events often enable major league clubs to evaluate a player’s skills against premier pitching and with a wood bat. The lack of data in these respects has created a cloud around a player who otherwise has the tools to be a top five pick in his own right.

5-tool player is more of an elusive myth rather than a term tossed around lightly, but Beck truly has diverse skills in every facet of the game. He doesn’t overpower anyone from a physicality standpoint but he drips with athleticism, which makes his smaller profile play up. The raw tools are what you’d arrive at if you were trying to build a video game stud in “create a player” mode. Perfect Game clocked Beck at 6.52 seconds in the 60 yard-dash, which gives him legitimate plus-plus speed. Whether that translates to stolen bases lies more in approach than raw foot speed, but he at least has the requisite ingredient to be a strong base-runner. The speed helps in the outfield too, where Beck has a shot to stick in center from both a talent and projected frame standpoint. Perfect Game sees plus defense noting that Beck has “good outfield actions, gets behind the ball and works through with advanced footwork and quick transfer and release.”

These reports come from a national showcase two summers ago, which underpins the importance of scouts not seeing Beck flash these tools last summer. It’s possible we wouldn’t even be pontificating about him at #11 if that were the case. Beck has a plus arm as well, hitting 92 MPH on his release from the outfield, which should play at any slot. 

This athleticism carries over to his bat, where Beck features elite bat speed and a fluid swing path. In the Baseball America video below, the eye-test really says it all. Despite being in a cage, Beck has a knack for squaring up just about everything. He’s truly explosive through the zone and able to get the bat head behind the ball and through the point of contact. Watching footage of Beck’s swing I can only speculate that the scouting concerns MLB Pipeline referenced surround a somewhat noisy load early in his swing. He does have a sizeable leg kick and discernible bat move load, but the whole package is very synchronized. Lacking expertise here, I’m personally not too concerned because the bat speed is so good that he can compensate for a slightly longer load.

In any case, his swing is conducive to power, potentially even plus power. The torque and bat speed combination gives him a real shot at 20-25 home runs simply because he’s so astute at barreling balls. It’s also the type of swing where he can spray the ball to all fields, which may give him at least gap power the other way.

Player comps are always a slippery slope, but it’s hard not to see Yankees prospect Clint Frazier in Beck, who shares a similar hard-nosed gritty style of play. Frazier was a high schooler who went 5th overall to Cleveland in the 2013 draft, and Beck has profoundly similar tools with a possibly more refined approach. He carries heightened risk, as do all prep players who are largely comprised more of projection than substance, but it’s hard to teach tools and Austin Beck sure has the tools.

Draft Day:

Austin Beck’s draft stock has gone from nearly bankrupt to the type of trendy market play you’d see on CNBC’s “Mad Money.” He’s sort of emerged from the ashes to shoot up draft boards and become the type of gem the scouting community drools over. That’s what happens when you start flashing forgotten tools all Spring. MLB Pipeline rates Beck the 9th best player in the draft, Baseball America concurs, and Keith Law is the lowest of the bunch with Beck at #16. Anyway you slice it though, he’s generally considered to be in the top ten conversation and a few mocks have reflected that.

MLB’s Jim Callis has Beck falling all the way to the Yankees at #16 overall, which would basically be a redux of how Blake Rutherford played out last year. Callis briefly mentions the Rays as the first team to consider Beck, but it’s hard to believe they’d pass on one of the core four in Hunter Greene, Brendan McKay, McKenzie Gore, and Kyle Wright – which all look like good bets to fill out the top end.

The Braves at number five look like Beck’s true ceiling, where they could potentially underslot him but they’ve really been everywhere. The Oakland A’s are flirting the closest with White Sox targets and are probably the first team to consider Kendall and according to ESPN’s Keith Law have been active in North Carolina, looking at Beck and Bukauskas. Oakland worked out Beck but there could be more smoke than fire there, as college guys look to be their play. Law has them taking Pavin Smith and Beck going two picks later to the Philadelphia Phillies, but qualifies that by saying Philly’s scope has been rather broad.

John Manuel from Baseball America has Beck still on the board when Chicago picks in his latest mock. He has the tooled-up outfielder going to the Texas Rangers at #26, which would be insane value and it seems like he’ll have a shorter life span on draft day. Beck falling outside the top ten would have more to due with concerns over lack of track record against showcase competition rather than poor performance metrics. The Milwaukee Brewers have gone toolsy outfielder two consecutive years now and it looks like they may prefer Jo Adell. The Los Angeles Angels have been linked to Adell even more than Milwaukee, so it appears Beck is the more likely prep to make it to the White Sox.

What all the mock drafts have in common is a firm trend of Jeren Kendall to Chicago, and the idea of Beck also being there could cause quite the stir in the draft room. Both outfielders carry immense upside and the 5-tool tease, but where Kendall wins in track record, Beck’s overall profile may carry less risk. The White Sox have been crucified for passing on Mike Trout for Jared Mitchell, and now they could face a similar decision between high-ceiling prep player or athletic college guy. Drafting Beck would indicate renewed trust in player development, as the White Sox haven’t drafted a high school bat this high since Courtney Hawkins. But if they buy that he can succeed in their system, there might be no better choice.

Our own Brian Bilek has reported that Beck worked out in Chicago yesterday, so there’s legit interest here as well.

Cage session from Baseball America:

Video from Prospect Pipeline, where you see Beck run, throw from the outfield, and effortlessly torch the ball with a wooden bat in BP 

Austin Beck’s three home runs from Baseball America:

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Filed under: Draft Coverage

Tags: Austin Beck

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