A Conversation With Dodgers Pitching Prospect Clayton Beeter

Clayton Beeter looks at pitching with a scientific bent. He also blows away hitters with a fastball-curveball combo that has elicited comparisons to a healthy Nick Anderson. Our own Eric Longenhagen made that very comp when he bullishly ranked the 22-year-old right-hander seventh on our Los Angeles Dodgers Top Prospect list. Baseball America slotted Beeter — the 66th-overall pick in last year’s draft — 21st on their own list.

Red-shirted his freshman year at Texas Tech University after undergoing Tommy John surgery during his first semester, Beeter returned to action as a closer, then moved into the Red Raiders starting rotation in his draft year. His future role yet to be determined, he’s currently taking the mound with the High-A Great Lakes Loons.

Beeter discussed his arsenal, and his approach to pitching, this past Saturday.

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David Laurila: Let’s start with how you self-identify as a pitcher. Give me a scouting report on yourself.

Clayton Beeter: “I would say I’ve got an overpowering fastball paired with an overpowering curveball. I can also mix in a changeup if I need to.”

Laurila: You consider yourself a power pitcher…

Beeter: “Yeah. For sure.”

Laurila: Has that always been the case?

Beeter: “I actually didn’t pitch until my last two years of high school. I was a shortstop and then they just kind of threw me on the mound because I had a good arm. I realized I could throw pretty hard for that age, but then I went to college to pitch and my velo kept increasing. So I guess I became that — I became a power pitcher — more so after Tommy John.”

Laurila: Where is your velocity now?

Beeter: “Right now it’s anywhere from 93 to 97 [mph].”

Laurila: You’re a hard thrower, but it’s not elite velocity…

Beeter: “I’m not throwing 100, but there are other factors that play into a fastball. Right? It’s not just velo.”

Laurila: I’ve read that you get good carry on your four-seamer.

Beeter: “Yes. I throw pretty over the top, and I guess that helps. My spin rate isn’t anything crazy — it’s 2,300, 2,400 [rpm] — but the [spin] efficiency is good.”

Laurila: “You mentioned your curveball. Do you throw a slider, as well?

Beeter: “No. I only throw a curveball, but sometimes when I’m trying to bury it with two strikes it maybe ends up being harder and more like a slider.”

Laurila: Have you seen that you’ve been compared to Nick Anderson?

Beeter: “I have. I actually saw him last year in the playoffs and made that comparison myself before I even heard that. So I don’t really mind that comp being thrown out there.”

Laurila: Did you model yourself after anyone prior to seeing Anderson?

Beeter: “Not really. When I was in college, the Astros were on a tear and Gerrit Cole was doing his thing. I saw how his fastball played, and kind of saw how mine played in similar locations in the zone. So I did watch him a lot, and I’ve been watching Shane Bieber a lot. That’s pretty much it.”

Laurila: Those guys are starters. I don’t know if your future role been determined yet…

Beeter; “I don’t know either. We’re in the same boat on that one.”

Laurila: It looks like you’ve been starting, but only going one inning. That must feel a little different.

Beeter: “Yeah, that’s more of a longevity focus. I don’t think it’s deciding starter or reliever.”

Laurila: The Dodgers are obviously big into pitching analytics. Did you know that going into the draft?

Beeter: “I actually didn’t talk with the Dodgers much before the draft — not as much as I did with other teams — but I had heard that they have a great player-development program. Since I got here, I’m kind of realizing how much more we do than other teams. That’s from [talking with] some of my former teammates that are with other organizations.”

Laurila: Were you surprised when the Dodgers took you?

Beeter: “I was. I had a few calls that never panned out, and then it was the Dodgers [calling] just as my name was called on TV.”

Laurila: As you mentioned earlier, you’d had Tommy John surgery. I understand that you had another procedure about a year later.

Beeter: “Yes. The other procedure was during my TJ rehab. It was a scope to go in there and make sure everything was rehabbing correctly, before I started throwing. I’d been having trouble getting my extension back during my rehab. It wasn’t a new injury.”

Laurila: It’s a little surprising that you needed Tommy John, given that you’d only been pitching for a few years.

Beeter: “Yeah, I think it was a combination of my arm action — it was really whippy and lead elbow, before — and then I also had a pretty good velo jump right when I got to college. I’d started working out a lot more and throwing in bigger situations.”

Laurila: One more thing: What have you learned about your pitches since signing with the Dodgers? Like you said, they’re really good at player development.

Beeter: “I’ve learned exactly what makes my fastball elite, and my breaking ball elite. That, and understanding what elite is — comparing it to all my teammates and big-league guys, just having the data available on anyone and everything.”

Laurila: Your stuff is maybe even better than you’d realized…

Beeter: “Right. I know why it is so good now, whereas in college I just kind of threw it and saw that people didn’t hit it very much.”

Laurila: Actually, I do have one more question. It’s something I often use as an ice-breaker, but we’ll close with it: Do you see pitching as more of an art, or as more of a science?

Beeter: “I’d say science. At least in the way I go about it. I’m a pretty intellectual guy, so I enjoy all the analytics and development, the chase of perfection.”

Laurila: What did you study at Texas Tech?

Beeter: “Mechanical engineering.”

Laurila: That would say a lot about how you think…

Beeter: “Exactly.”





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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