LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers used four of their six picks in this draft — side note: six picks, five rounds what a joke, MLB — on college pitchers, and were quite happy to do so.
“We’re fired up. We just got a lot of velocity, a lot of pure stuff. It’s big, it’s right-handed. It was the strength of the draft, and we just took advantage of it,” Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting Billy Gasparino said Thursday. “Knack and Beeter, these guys are mid-90s fastballs and big breaking balls to go along with it. Knack is an outstanding strike thrower. Beeter had a great year in his first year as a starting pitcher. We’re ecstatic to get both guys.”
Landon Knack was the Dodgers’ second-round pick out of East Tennessee State, picked 60th overall. He saw a big uptick in his fastball in 2020. Six picks later, the Dodgers picked Texas Tech right-hander Clayton Beeter, who might just be the most interesting pitcher in the bunch.
The real question is whether Beeter will start or relieve as a professional.
“We’re hopeful all four are going to start. Obviously, that’s always a good insurance plan. I know Beeter’s probably the one most people have doubt on, but we’re very bullish on his starting chances,” Gasparino said. “If you had to pick one [to relieve], it would be Beeter. With his breaking ball, which was the best in the draft class, we would be happy if he ended up in the bullpen. We think he’d be dominant there.”
Gasparino isn’t alone in praising Beeter’s stuff. Kiley McDaniel at ESPN rated Beeter the 22nd-best prospect in the draft, noting “he throws an upper-90s heater and a plus-plus hook that has some calling his stuff the best in the whole draft.” Keith Law at The Athletic ranked Beeter 18th, and said he “might have the best single pitch in the draft in his curveball.”
Beeter missed the 2018 season at Texas Tech after Tommy John surgery, and was the Red Raiders closer as a redshirt freshman in 2019. He was effective, with a 3.48 ERA and eight saves, but also had nearly as many walks (20) as innings (20⅔).
This season he was dominant in a starting role. but only got to start four games before the season was shutdown. He posted a 2.14 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 21 innings, and only walked four. Beeter struck out 12 in six innings against Rice on March 6, his final start of the year.
Clayton Beeter at Texas Tech
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“There was an extended period away from his Tommy John surgery that he started getting his pitchability back. His tempo improved, his execution improved. His ability to refocus mentally, and adjust quickly after making a bad pitch, all really improved,” Gasparino said. “His curveball strike percentage went up, and he started to show a little bit of a changeup. He became much more of a starter option than we thought it would be.
“The Texas Tech coaches say he’s one of the strongest guys they’ve ever had as a pitcher there. The athleticism stood out and we love his makeup.”
Gasparino said the Dodgers would develop Beeter as a starter, for what it’s worth. That’s usually how it goes.