The Oakland Athletics have reached agreement with 31 of their 40 selections from the 2017 MLB Draft. Among them was first-round selection Austin Beck, who claimed a franchise record $5.3 million signing bonus.
Beck has been compared to all many of MLB superstars including the star, Mike Trout. Of that comparison, the 18-year-old outfielder said, through his North Carolina drawl:
“I’ve heard of it, but he’s the best player in the game so it’s kinda hard to compare anybody to that. I guess I’ve got similar tools to what he’s got.”
He compares his own game to 2013 National League MVP Andrew McCutchen.
Manager Bob Melvin has seen young players become stars in his 30 around the league. Of his team’s No. 6 overall selection, he said:
“I’ve heard some comps. I don’t like to put comps on guys, but he legitimately looks like a five-tool guy. He can do just about everything: throws; he runs; he hits; he hits for power; all the types of things you would hope you would get from a premiere first-round pick.”
The comparisons, albeit unfair to the youngster, are not unfounded. Beck batted .590 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs in 28 games as a senior at North Davidson High School in Lexington, North Carolina. In his high school career, he hit at a .457 clip with 23 homers in 103 games. In fact, it may be that only ACL surgery during his junior kept him from going even higher than the six-spot, according to Minor League Ball.
Beck was invited to take batting practice with the team prior to Tuesday’s game. Hitting with the final group, the first-round selection put on a show, flashing lightning-quick bat speed and accompanying thunderous power. Using a wooden bat, he launched several over the wall from straight-away left to the right-center field gap.
— Kalama Hines (@HINESight_2020) June 21, 2017
As far as what he believes he can bring to the Oakland organization, Beck said:
“The will to win. I come out here to compete and do the best I can, and try to play 100 percent.”
“(I play) very fast-paced. I go out there and do everything as fast as I can.”
And speed is one of those tools Melvin said makes him a very intriguing addition. Beck has been clocked as fast as 4.1 seconds from the right hander’s batter’s box to first — the league average in 2016 was 4.62, according to MLB.com. Beck’s speed is also on display in his 41 runs scores his senior year — 1.5 per game.
He is also his hopeful his speed shines as he rises through the ranks in the A’s system. Asked how quickly he hopes to make that climb, Beck said:
“As quick as possible. I’m going to go out there and play the best I can every day, and try to fight for a spot on this team.”
The journey continues Wednesday, when the young man flies to Arizona, where he begins his professional baseball career in the Arizona League.
He hasn’t had much time to enjoy the ride since agreeing to his contract, saying the past couple days have “kinda flown by,” but he did find time to indulge a bit of Bay Area culture. He said his first day in Oakland included a midnight run to In-N-Out.
And, for a guy used to doing things fast, he hasn’t allowed the moments to pile up too quickly, saying he went numb upon being notified of his drafting. He added that his celebration on draft day included a late-night fishing trip with about eight of his buddies. He said:
“It’s really exciting. It’s always what you’ve dreamed of — of doing as a little kid.”