If you’re looking for a unique, under the radar pitching prospect, you’ve found your guy: Jesse Beal. He was a 14th round selection in the 2008 draft and made his full season debut with Delmarva in 2010. He was shut down towards the end of the season with a tired arm, likely a result of his thin frame (see the picture below), which is going to be key for Beal going forward.
Beal’s biggest asset is his ability to throw the ball over the plate, command it within the strike zone and keep it down in the zone. He walked a microscopic 1.0 batters per 9 innings in 2009 and a slightly larger, but still uniquely low 1.8 batters per 9 in 2010.
The most important thing for young pitchers, as Rick Kranitz says, is “command of the fastball“, and Beal already does just that. In order to take the next step forward Beal needs to add some weight in order to increase his fastball velocity, which is now in the 86-89 mph range, occasionally touching 90 mph.
Despite the low velocity, Beal still puts himself in position to succeed because he a) commands the ball in the strike zone, hitting spots and corners b) has some nice sink and run on the ball, which has allowed him to post solid ground ball rates and c) flat out knows how to pitch.
Beal did add about 15 pounds prior to 2010 spring training, but a sickness slowly took all of the weight back off. I haven’t touched base with anybody recently about his weight, but I assume he’s still working hard to put on some muscle.
I wouldn’t read too much into Beal’s injury because his smooth, repeatable mechanics should allow him to stay healthy in the long run once he bulks up a bit.
Beal is over his 2010 arm issues and will make the jump to Frederick in 2010. If his secondary offerings improve a bit and he adds a few ticks to his fastball, he’ll really turn heads and rocket up this prospect list. He’s one to watch closely.