Former Crowder and current Boston Red Sox organization pitcher Jalen Beeks’ shot at the major leagues came to an end on Sunday when he was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Stepping in for David Price for a start against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday, Beeks faced seven batters and his line ended seven runs allowed on six hits and one walk. Beeks did not record an out.
Sunday’s cuts were the first round made by the Red Sox.
Left-handed pitchers Beeks and Williams Jerez, as well as right-handed pitchers Ty Buttrey and Chandler Shepherd, were sent to Pawtucket.
Meanwhile, catcher Austin Rei, infielders Michael Chavis and Esteban Quiroz, outfielders Jeremy Barfield and Steve Selsky, and right-handed pitchers Kyle Martin and Fernando Rodriguez Jr. were all reassigned to minor league camp.
Just a week before, Boston Globe sports writer Peter Abraham wrote a piece on Beeks called “Jalen Beeks has built himself a future in the big leagues.”
In the article, Red Sox manager Alex Cora compared Beeks to Red Sox lefty Brian Johnson, “They can pitch. They understand who they are. If you don’t throw 98, why try and pitch like somebody who throws hard? Use your fastball in the right spots. You can go a long ways with that. He uses that fastball up in the zone, mixing up pitches, very comfortable on the mound. Very quiet kid, and that shows on the mound, a lot of poise.”
Beeks worked his way into being one of the top prospects in the Red Sox organization, starting with an impressive start last spring against Team USA in an exhibition for the Red Sox.
Then, with stops last season at Pawtucket and Double-A Portland, Beeks pitched strong enough to earn the Red Sox’ minor league pitcher of the year. A couple months after the season, the Red Sox named Beeks to their 40-man roster.
Last season, Beeks finished 11-8 overall with a 3.29 ERA and 155 strikeouts and 55 walks over a combined 145 innings. Beeks went 5-1 with a 2.19 ERA at Portland and 6-7 with a 3.86 ERA at Pawtucket. Beeks recorded his best pro season, one that brought him very close to the majors.
The Red Sox picked the 5-foot-11, 195-pound southpaw in the 12th round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of Arkansas, Beeks’ collegiate destination after Crowder.
— Beeks was not the only former Crowder standout optioned or reassigned by a MLB team.
The Colorado Rockies reassigned outfielder Sam Hilliard to minor league camp on Saturday.
Not that Hilliard didn’t have his moments in spring training.
On March 1, Hilliard procured a 2-all tie with the Chicago Cubs with a two-run home run.
Then, just a couple days before his reassignment, Hilliard doubled and hit the game-winning single in a 3-2 win for the Rockies against the Cincinnati Reds.
“It’s good to see these guys in these situations,” Colorado manager Bud Black (pitcher on the 1985 Kansas City Royals) said. “This is great experience. These are little steps, even though it’s a spring training game, it’s big league camp. We look for these things. We want to know these players, to see what they can do.”
Playing for Single-A Advanced Lancaster last season, the 24-year-old Hilliard enjoyed his best pro season with a .300 average (161 for 536), 95 runs scored, 23 doubles, seven triples, 21 home runs, 92 RBI, and 37 stolen bases in 54 attempts.
Hilliard is rated as the No. 12 overall prospect in the Rockies system.
The Rockies selected Hilliard in the 15th round out of the 2015 MLB Draft, out of Wichita State, his collegiate destination after one season at Crowder.