Blake Beavan has spent nearly half his season in the Texas League, and the right-hander is holding his own, particularly for a 20-year-old at the Double-A level.
In 11 starts with the Frisco RoughRiders, Beavan has a 4.54 earned-run average. Although opponents have 87 hits in 67.1 innings, he has allowed just three homers and issued only nine walks.
Beavan consistently pitched deep into games with relatively low pitch counts early in the season with Bakersfield, and that's a trend that has continued in Frisco. The 6-foot-7, 250-pound hurler has pitched at least six innings in each of his last six starts.
When the Rangers selected Beavan with the 17th overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft, they were expecting to get a fireballer that would pile up the strikeouts.
Since joining the professional ranks, Beavan has been the exact opposite—but he has remained successful.
The Irving native consistently pounds the bottom half of the strike zone with his 88-91 mph fastball [his average fastball for the season is right around 90 mph]. As discussed in the following interview, Beavan normally uses a two-seam fastball, but he is now working on a four-seamer.
Beavan also has a slider and a changeup. The slider isn't the swing-and-miss pitch it once was, and it must get a little sharper [if not harder] before becoming an above-average pitch.
Beavan's changeup has been his most encouraging development stuff-wise. The offspeed pitch has come a long way over the last two years, and it should be at least average down the line, with an opportunity to become an above-average offering.
Lone Star Dugout caught up with Beavan after a recent Frisco game to talk about his season since joining the ‘Riders.
Jason Cole: Now that you've got some time under your belt here, how do you feel you've pitched since you arrived in Frisco from Bakersfield?
Blake Beavan: I think I've learned a lot. I think it is starting to come along. I've still got another six or seven starts, so I'm just going to try to finish strong and keep working on what me and Jeff—when DC [Danny Clark] was in town, we were working on just trying to get that changeup more consistent.
Just throwing it in games and in practice. I'm trying to get it as a dominant pitch to add to my fastball and slider to keep hitters off-balance. For the most part, I think I have done pretty good for being in the league in a short time.
Cole: I know you've been throwing your changeup quite a bit since you joined the Frisco club. Have you ever used it this often in games before?
Beavan: No. In Clinton, I didn't throw it at all in the first half. Second half in Clinton, DC started making me throw ten changeups per game. I got a pretty good feel for it my first season, towards that last half of the season. Then in Instructional League, I threw it a bunch and in Spring Training I threw it.
Now I've been throwing it all the time. There are a lot of lefties in the lineups we face in the Texas League, so I've been throwing at least eight to ten changeups every game. I could probably throw it a little more, but for the most part, I'm just trying to get the feel of it. Even if I don't have it that game, I'm still going to throw it just to try and get the feel of it.
Cole: Are you still having to force yourself to throw the changeup, or are you throwing it because you legitimately feel it's the best pitch to go to?
Beavan: On lefties, I feel that it is probably my best pitch to get a hitter out. Righties, I haven't thrown it to righties yet. That's something else I'm going to start working on probably in these next couple of starts. If we get ahead or if I've got a chance to do it to where it's not going to hurt me if I do make a mistake.
But for lefties, my changeup has probably been my best pitch to get lefties out. Righties, I haven't thrown my changeup to righties yet, but that's something that I'm going to start working on.
Cole: Last time I spoke to you, not long after you were promoted to Frisco, you mentioned that you were throwing only four-seam fastballs. Is that still the case?
Beavan: I've thrown four-seams up until my last four starts. I've started mixing in my two-seam again. My two-seam is a big pitch for me. Always has been. I used it all the time in Clinton. That's what I get a lot of my ground balls in—especially to lefties. I get a lot of ground balls and popups with my two-seam.
These last four starts, I've used my two-seam and it has worked out pretty good. I'm starting to ease my two-seam in there. DC wants me to throw four-seams the majority of the time just to kind of get my velocity back with the four-seam.
But the two-seam—I don't want to steer away from it because that's my bread and butter when it comes to throwing strikes and getting ground balls when I need them.
Cole: Did you feel like a different pitcher out there when you were only able to use the four-seam fastball?
Beavan: A little bit. It was just weird because in high school, all I threw was two-seams. Then in Clinton I threw all two-seams. This year is actually the first that I've only been allowed to throw four-seams.
It was definitely different. I had to learn how to hold a four-seam grip and how to throw it. That was new. Practicing with that and working on that in the Cal League—if you look at the outings in the Cal League, in the first month you can see that I had to work on getting the ball down, especially with the four-seam fastball that doesn't have a whole lot of life on it.
But the two-seam, I've just started mixing it in because I need it in certain situations. Especially at the higher level with better hitters.
Cole: Are you still throwing more four-seams than two-seams now and you're just mixing in two-seams now and then?
Beavan: I'm mixing it in pretty good. I wouldn't say I'm throwing my two-seam as much as my four-seam, but for the most part, I'm using my two-seam a lot more.
Beavan mixing up his fastballs
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