Bakersfield Comes Back Again

Former UCLA teammates Beau Amaral and Jeff Gelalich have been in the same outfield since helping the Bruins to the College World Series in 2012. Now they’re both at Bakersfield where they both had two-homer games in a comeback win by the Blaze on Sunday.

For the second time in three games Bakersfield overcame a deficit to beat visiting Lancaster 7-6 which leaves them one win away from sweeping a four-game set against the Sky Hawks. Sean Buckley gave the Blaze an early lead when he singled in a run in the first inning, but the home team found themselves in a hole after allowing six in the third. They got to work chipping away when Beau Amaral hit a solo home run in the bottom of that inning. Amaral struck again in the fifth when he and Jeff Gelalich both popped solo homers. Gelalich came back in the seventh to tie the game with his second dinger, a two-run shot. Finally Joe Hudson delivered the game-winner by leading off the bottom of the ninth with his team’s fifth homer for a walk-off win.

Every Blaze batter had at least one hit and five had two: Amaral, Gelalich, brent peterson, Buckley, and Sebastian Elizalde. On the mound reliever El’Hajj Muhammad got the start and left the game after tossing two scoreless innings. Ismael Guillen relieved him and got roughed up for six in his first inning, but he did last long enough to finish the seventh. Brian Pearl and Jake Johnson each tossed a scoreless frame with Johnson getting the win by throwing the last one.

This is Amaral’s third season in the Cincinnati organization since he was selected in the seventh round of the 2012 draft out of UCLA. He’s played with three different teams in the system this season after starting out with a .327 average after returning to Dayton. That shot him all the way up to Pensacola for ten games before he made his way to Bakersfield where he’s now hitting .299 AVG/.355 OB over 73 appearances.

Amaral is a 5’11”/180# centerfield/lead-off hitter that bats/throws left-handed. There’s been one familiar face in the outfield since he turned pro, Jeff Gelalich, with who he’s been a teammate going back to college days where they helped the Bruins to the College World Series. Gelalich has been a more highly regarded prospect since the Reds used a supplemental first-round pick to get him three seasons ago, but the two have been together nearly all the time since they started ascending up the development system.

During that time Amaral has been hitting regularly atop of the lineup. He had a nice start in his short season at Billings, but slowed down last season at Dayton. This year he’s gotten back on track and is now showing that he’s ready for a longer stay at the AA level. He is also showing plate discipline that is okay for the level, striking out in 15% of his plate appearances while walking enough for a decent OB/AVG differential. He’ll probably need to develop this further as he advances to maintain it against higher level pitching.

He can also swipe a base, stealing 40 for Dayton last season and a total of 23 thus far this season. He also uses that speed in centerfield by running down more than two putouts per game while and combines that with an arm good enough to gun down around one runner every ten games.

Amaral comes from a baseball family because his father, Rich Amaral, was a utility infielder in the American League during the 90’s after earning All-American honors at UCLA. The elder Amaral didn’t make his debut until he was 29 years old. Once he did arrive he hit well enough to sustain a .276 career average while playing in over 700 games in his ten year MLB career. At 23 years of age Beau is on a normal schedule for a college player advancing up the lower levels of an organization and he’s showing that he knows the way to first base from his leadoff spot.

The competition will get tougher, as it does for every prospect moving to a higher level. However, Amaral should arrive with a polished skill set and a clear idea on his expectation which is setting the table for mid-lineup hitters offensively while roaming over the middle of the outfield with his glove. The high draft selection invested in Gelalich will motivate Cincinnati to continue moving him up whenever he shows readiness. Amaral’s performance should keep him alongside his college teammate for a while longer.

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