Two former Crowder players are on the 40-man rosters for the Tampa Bay Rays and the Colorado Rockies, Jalen Beeks and Sam Hilliard, respectively.
The 25-year-old Beeks, nicknamed “Beeker,” earned a niche in long relief for the Rays last season and finished with a 5-1 overall record and a 5.51 ERA, 42 strikeouts, and 24 walks over 50 2/3 innings. Beeks started his MLB career with two rough outings for the Boston Red Sox, seeing his ERA at 12.79 after his first 6 1/3 innings.
Things looked up though for the southpaw Beeks after the Red Sox traded him for RHP Nathan Eovaldi on July 25, 2018.
Beeks earned a 5-0 mark with a 4.47 ERA in his 12 relief outings for the Rays. Meanwhile, Eovaldi went 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA for the Red Sox and he won playoff games against the Yankees in the ALDS and the Houston Astros in the ALCS. Eovaldi lost Game 3 of the World Series, Boston’s only loss in the series. Eovaldi opted for free agency after the season.
Beeks, who pitched collegiately at Arkansas after Crowder, punched his big league ticket after a strong 2017 season (11-8, 3.29 ERA, 155 strikeouts in 145 innings) and an even stronger start to his 2018 at Triple-A Pawtucket (5-5, 2.89 ERA, 117 strikeouts in 87 1/3 innings).
Beeks made his MLB debut June 7 with a start against the Detroit Tigers.
The Red Sox drafted the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Beeks in the 12th round in 2014.
Hilliard, like Beeks, had a crack at Spring Training in 2018 and this spring he’ll get his chance being on the Rockies’ 40-man roster.
Apparently, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Hilliard (ranked ninth in the Rockies’ farm system) made a strong impression during the Arizona Fall League and he was one of four players, including Josh Fuentes, Ryan Castellani, and Justin Lawrence, that were protected from Rule 5 and added to the 40-man.
The 24-year-old Hilliard, a 15th round selection of the Rockies in the 2015 MLB Draft, hit .262 last season with nine home runs, 22 doubles, three triples, 40 RBI, and 23 stolen bases for Double-A Hartford of the Eastern League.
Hilliard earned midseason all-star honors for the third straight season (2016 for Asheville in the South Atlantic and 2017 for Lancaster in the California League) and he participated in the Eastern League’s home run derby.
Spring Training opens February 21, 2019.
Tampa Bay plays in the Grapefruit League and Colorado in the Cactus League. The Rockies share a field — the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick — with the Arizona Diamondbacks.