Normally, I wouldn’t be too upset about a schedule change like the one this past weekend involving Boston College baseball, which relocated its series against No. 6 Clemson to Rhode Island due to field conditions. It happens practically every year—an unfortunate side effect of being the northernmost program in the ACC. But this was different: The move meant that fans probably won’t see the best player in college baseball before he graduates to the Majors.
For the unenlightened, I’m referring to Seth Beer, the Tigers’ right fielder-turned-first baseman and winner of the Dick Howser Trophy for the nation’s top college player. Most people expect Beer to enter the 2018 MLB Draft following his junior season, in which case he would go his entire collegiate career without stepping foot in Chestnut Hill.
That certainly hasn’t stopped him from becoming a bonafide Eagle-killer. In the opening game of last year’s series at Clemson, Beer went 2-for-2 with a two-run home run and three runs scored against No. 22 BC. He notched another two-hit game in a Saturday win, and capped off a series sweep in dramatic fashion on Sunday. With two outs in the 10th inning, Beer broke a 2-2 tie with a walk-off blast into the trees behind the right-field fence, giving the teenager the first signature moment of his college career. Even the best of Clemson athletes took notice.
This weekend, he picked up right where he left off against the Eagles, beating the shift for an RBI double off ace Jacob Stevens in his first at-bat. On Sunday, he delivered a solo homer in the ninth inning off Donovan Casey, capping off yet another sweep of BC with a tape-measure shot. Overall, Beer sports a .381 average with three home runs against BC in six career games. Those are Chipper Jones-against-the-Mets levels of destruction. (Jones, who batted .309 with 49 dingers against the Mets, loved playing them so much that he actually named his son, Shea, after their stadium.)
It’s hard to blame Birdball—Beer crushes just about everyone he faces. Last year, during what should have been his senior year of high school, the 6-foot-3 lefty made the best conference in the country look like JuCo baseball. Beer led the ACC with 18 home runs, hitting a nice .369 with 12 doubles and 70 RBI. In an unprecedented series of events, the 19-year-old phenom brought home both the ACC Player of the Year and the Dick Howser Trophy. It marked the first time that a freshman had won either award.
When you watch Beer at the plate, you know you’re witnessing a future MLB star. First off, he has the kind of raw power that scouts salivate over. He manages impeccable hip torque and bat speed with his 200-pound frame that results in a beautiful flight path of the ball. Second, his approach at the plate resembles that of a seasoned veteran, not a kid who just turned 20. As a freshman, Beer walked nearly once in every three at-bats, finishing the year third in the nation in total bases on balls. It’s his eye that saved him this season when he saw his batting average dip to .240, as he still boasts a .473 on-base percentage.
Finally, unlike Beyoncé, Beer possesses the clutch gene. Earlier this month, then-No. 12 Clemson was caught in a heated rivalry series with No. 4 South Carolina. The Tigers trailed 3-2 with two outs in the ninth inning and nobody on base, but luckily, it was Beer’s turn in the box. With a full count and the Gamecock stands on their feet, Beer sent the payoff pitch soaring over the right-field fence to even the score. Clemson went on to steal the win in extra innings and take the series victory over its in-state rivals. It was also the third-consecutive game in which Beer had homered.
“He sees the ball so well; he doesn’t swing at bad pitches; and he hits to all fields,” one MLB scout said after attending the 2016 series against BC. “But what really catches our eyes is how he puts a natural lift on the ball. He naturally generates a backspin that hitters would kill for.”
Oh, and then there’s his name, of course. Beer is a one-of-a-kind walking marketing goldmine—there has been a Clarence Beers and a Scott Beerer, but no Beer in the Big Show before. Imagine the jersey sales and PR spectacle if he was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers, or even beer-affiliated teams like the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies, which play at Busch Stadium and Coors Field, respectively.
Beer has always seemed destined for athletic success. Growing up, he was the type of kid who could have excelled at any sport of his choosing. In fact, had he not fallen in love with baseball, he might have joined Michael Phelps in the pool for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Beer shattered the national records in the 11- and 12-year-old age groups for backstroke in both the 50-meter and 100-meter events. Those records stood for seven years before recently being broken.
Despite his aquatic accomplishments, it appears as though Beer made the right choice. As the type of player who has the potential to transform a lineup, there’s already plenty of talk about where he’ll fall in the 2018 MLB Draft. But, in spite of Beer’s national accolades, history doesn’t exactly favor his odds of hearing his name called first overall next year. College corner outfielders and first basemen just don’t get selected with the No. 1 pick. Only two college outfielders have ever been taken first, and they were both athletic center fielders. In the 51-year history of the draft, only three first basemen have been selected in the top five.
But don’t be surprised if he’s taken in the top-five, or even first overall, come next June. After all, he has proven time and time again that there are few comparisons for this swimmer-turned-slugger. For Beer, it would just add to the long—and rapidly growing—list of firsts.
Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor