Name: Beamer Weems
DOB: July 28, 1988
Drafted in the eighth-round of the 2008 MLB Draft, Weems was sent to short-season Eugene to begin his professional career. A late sign, he received 70 at-bats with the Emeralds, hitting .186. He did post a 18-to-17 walk-to-strikeout ratio that netted him a .352 on-base percentage.
When injuries depleted the corps in San Antonio that same year, Weems was called upon to hold the fort because of his strong defensive skills. He also did well with the bat, hitting .294 across five games before getting sent back down.
The 2009 season saw him skip over Fort Wayne entirely – based on a strong instructional league the prior year that continued into Spring Training.
The shortstop saw action in 108 games for the Lake Elsinore Storm, hitting .253 en route to earning the lone California League postseason All-Star bid by a Lake Elsinore player.
"He got off to that good start, and if I had to point one finger to it, it's that internal belief," roving infield coordinator Gary Jones said. "He gets off to a good start, which gives him another boost, and then he is trying to get better with Shane Spencer [former Lake Elsinore batting coach]. He also did a good job of keeping the ball out of the air and getting on base and that is the type of game that he wants to play."
Weems added 27 extra-base hits – mostly hitting second in the lineup. He also drew 76 walks compared to 76 strikeouts for a .401 on-base percentage – a number that placed him fifth in the league. His walk totals were second to teammate Danny Payne.
One of his goals heading into 2009 was getting stronger. He accomplished that but still needs to pack on more strength. He wore down as the season went along and that affected him down the stretch.
The Baylor alumnus was hitting .284 heading into the final month of the season before batting .134 in 20 August games. He contributed 44 RBI and scored 61 runs while batting .297 with runners in scoring position.
"I don't think he's played this long in his life," Lake Elsinore manager Carlos Lezcano said. "I think he was getting a little tired in the end and that was the main reason for the decline on his bat."
Weems also singled in his lone at-bat with the Portland Beavers.
At one time, the Padres considered making him a right-handed hitter only. Weems even agreed that his right-handed stroke was more natural. During 2008 instructs, Weems made such profound progress that the Padres decided to let him remain a switch hitter. He hit .258 off right-handed pitching and .243 off left-handers. Being a switch-hitter is what Weems coveted. He has worked hard to mirror his foundation from both sides.
"Beamer Weems – major surprise," former Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said. "Here is a guy that we knew when we took him really had no offensive past. When we got our eyes and arms around him we evaluated what we had to work with. At the end of (last) summer, I challenged Muse (hitting coordinator Tony Muser) by saying, ‘Sometime in the near future, we have to make a call in this Instructional League on whether we are going to continue to allow him to switch-hit or turn him around to the right side and let him go.' We all know what a good defender he is. But when Instructional League was done, we were all in agreement that this guy has made so much improvement that we have to let it go.
"It is not only that he has hit but his ability to get on base and control the strike zone. His amount of walks and on base percentage has blown everybody away. It was a nice surprise."
Electric hands give him a quick bat – so much so that he tried to pull everything in his first year. He adjusted his approach to go the opposite way more in 2009. That allowed him to let the ball travel deeper, giving him increased recognition of pitches.
With a solid batting eye, Weems is able to wait for his pitch to hit. The added muscle, although weakened towards the end of the season, assisted him in putting balls into the outfield. The year prior, he did not have the strength to consistently hit the ball into the outfield unless he perfectly squared up a ball.
Weems has a strong batting stance and good leverage with his swing. His bat plane is very level, but that is where he is at his best – hitting liners and keeping the ball out of the air. With good separation, he is able to get a consistent load and swing through the ball with his entire body.
He still needs to work on consistently mirroring his stances but has come a long way in solidifying his plight as a switch-hitter.
Weems lived up to his billing as a top-flight defender. He was hit by more pitches (13) than fielding errors. The shortstop made just 12 errors on the season and just 10 in 414 total chances at shortstop for a league best .976 fielding percentage. Two of his errors came at second base.
With smooth hands, impeccable footwork and a quick release, Weems is major-league ready as a defender. To commit just 10 errors at shortstop on the slick infields of the California League is impressive. He has a cannon arm but does not need to flash it often because he puts himself in good position to make plays. Rarely off-balance – a key element on defense – Weems transitions from glove to hand fluidly. He is also adept at turning the double play and has immaculate body control.
"There is no questioning his glove," Lezcano said. "He made the postseason All-Star at shortstop mainly because of his defense. He can really play short."
"Defensively it's all there," Jones said. "It's my belief that he could go to the big leagues and play shortstop right now on the defensive side. He can make all the plays, he has an arm, which may not be quite as good as Zawadzki's, but its close; he just doesn't show it as much. He's just that good, that he understands when he needs to show it.
"He always has his feet in a good fielding position. The only rare times he gets in trouble is when he lays back on balls, but he instinctively always gets himself in good position. He is one of the better guys that I have seen is not getting the in-between hop because his feet are always in great position."
The lone area that could use help is lateral range. While he has better than average range glove side, he could stand to improve upon his ability to transition to his right.
Weems isn't a big threat to run but will take the occasional base. He has a solid first-step but lacks top-end quickness. He stole 10 bases in 15 attempts this past season and can swipe 5-10 a year without much thought.
"Beemer needs to become more physical," Fuson said. "He ran out of gas at the end of the year and lost too much weight in August. He hasn't been as serious as he needs to be on his strength program and ended up ruining what looked to be a tremendous year. We were really happy with what he was able to do at the plate for most of the year, with his average and getting on base, especially from the left side."
Conclusion: Weems is a premium defender that can play multiple positions because of his innate ability. Working on his offense remains the focal point. If he can improve his strength and keep a solid program to maintain that core throughout the grueling season, Weems can be an adequate force offensively. He will never be a superstar but has the potential to reach base often because of his batting eye. He must also continue to refine his swing and keep the gameplan simple – balls out of the air while making use of the opposite field.
Talk about this story on our subscriber-only message boards
Join MadFriars.com on Twitter at http://twitter.com/madfriars