For fans of the Dodgers who follow the Double-A circuit closely, they’ll know that it’s becoming a common theme for Tulsa to be very well-represented at the annual Texas League All-Star Game. This season is no different, as nine Drillers will participate in this year’s extravaganza on Tuesday, June 27 in Frisco, Texas.
Leading the way for Tulsa is 24-year-old infielder Matt Beaty, who is no stranger to All-Star honors, after having been named as a 2016 California League Post-Season All-Star as a member of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes last year. So far in 2017, Beaty is hitting an impressive .290/.355/.464 with seven long balls, 13 doubles and 26 RBI through 58 games. Last season for Rancho, he slashed .297/.352/.428 with 11 home runs, 30 doubles and 88 RBI in 489 AB.
Perhaps his most notable effort of the season came in early June against Corpus Christi, when he went 3-for-5 and ultimately launched a walkoff home run to seal the victory.
Matt took a few moments aside from his busy schedule recently to sit down and chat about his first few years in the Dodgers system.
Beaty grew up in Dresden, Tennessee, and after a prominent career at Dresden High, decided to attend Belmont University in nearby Nashville. After his junior year at Belmont, he competed in the distinguished Northwoods League — a collegiate summer baseball league comprising teams of the top college players who have NCAA eligibility remaining. Beaty played for the Green Bay Bullfrogs, and was eventually named team MVP.
“The Northwoods League was a beneficial experience that got me ready for professional baseball. We played somewhere around 70 games in 75 days which is similar to what we do now,” Beaty said.
Following his All-American senior year at Belmont, Beaty was selected by the Dodgers in the 12th round of the 2015 MLB Draft.
“I was pumped when I found out that I was drafted by the Dodgers. There are so many All-Star and Hall of Fame names that are associated with the organization,” Beaty explained. “In addition, I had heard that the Dodgers’ player development staff was one of the best in the baseball. I knew that I was going to be in good hands.”
Not long after the draft, Beaty was ushered to Ogden in the Pioneer League to get his feet wet, and later earned a promotion later that summer to Low-A Great Lakes, where he hit .297/.353/.390 through 62 games, primarily playing third base.
The Dodgers drafted Beaty with the intentions of utilizing him as a catcher; however, his skills at the corner infield spots have proved to be his most valuable assets. To further show his versatility, he has also appeared in a handful of games in both left and right field for the Drillers this season, a talent that’s sure to impress Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.
“I grew up playing third base, so that’s the position which I feel most comfortable. But I honestly don’t care where I play as long as I get to hit,” he said. “As far as catching goes, I know I was drafted as a catcher, but I didn’t catch at all through college. My first spring training we experimented with it a little bit but haven’t done much since.”
Growing up in the southern region of the country, Beaty naturally was a fan of the Braves, and patterned his game after the great Chipper Jones, a sure-to-be first ballot Hall of Fame inductee in 2018.
“I grew up just outside of Atlanta, so my favorite team was the Braves,” Beaty stated. “Chipper Jones was my favorite player. Hitting left-handed and play third base, I always tried to model my game after his.”
As far as his most influential coaches or teammates go, Beaty says it’s difficult to name just one, considering the vast amount of talent and resources present in the Dodgers’ organization.
“There are a lot of great guys in this organization. The most influential is tough to pinpoint,” Beaty said. “My first full season with hitting coach Jay gibbons was very valuable. He helped me figure out a lot of things about hitting at the professional level, and it was fun to talk to him about his playing days in the big leagues.”
Looking ahead to the second half of 2017, Beaty ended the conversation with a few thoughts about a few of his short-term goals and aspirations.
“Obviously, there are some personal achievements that would be great to get. For me. I just want to keep proving that I belong in the organization,” he explained. “I just try to play hard and have fun and the numbers will take care of themselves.”
“Additionally, it would be really fun to win a championship in the Texas League. We have a great group of guys and we are very capable of being in it at the end of the year.”
(Follow Matt on Twitter: @Matt_BeatyBU)