Not many eyebrows were raised when the Pittsburgh Pirates claimed a right-handed pitcher named Tyler Beede on waivers after he was set free by the San Francisco Giants last week.
And for good reason. Beede’s Major League numbers – a 5-11 record, 5.39 ERA in 33 games, 24 of which were starts – were anything but impressive. In 135 1/3 innings, the Worcester, Mass., native surrendered 152 hits. And while he struck out 128 for an 8.5 K per nine innings rate, he also walked 60 (four walks per nine) over parts of four seasons.
So why would the Pirates use a coveted roster spot on Beede? A lot of it comes down to pedigree. The soon-to-be 29-year-old was twice chosen in the first round of the annual MLB draft – the Toronto Blue Jays selected him 21st overall first as a high schooler in 2011 and after he passed on that offer and spent three years at Vanderbilt, the Giants made him the 14th pick in the 2014 draft.
At one time, Beede looked to be a worthy selection while making his way through the Giants’ Minor League system. In 2016, his second season at the Double-A level, Beede went 8-7 with a 2.81 ERA in 24 starts covering 147 1/3 innings. He gave up just 136 hits and struck out 135 (8.2 per nine) while walking 53 (3.2 per nine).
That proved to be his Minor League high water mark, though. He was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento in 2017 where he went 6-7 with a 4.79 ERA, giving up 121 hits in 109 innings in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. His next go-round at Sacramento in 2018 went even worse, as he went 4-9 with a 7.05 ERA in 33 games, 10 of which were starts. In 74 innings, Beede gave up 82 hits, but the walk numbers – 56 – were even more alarming.
Still, the Giants thought enough of the 6’2”, 216-pounder to promote him to the big club after five starts at Sacramento in 2019. His initial foray didn’t go well; in his Major League debut, Beede was touched for seven earned runs and eight hits in two and a third innings, and after two more appearances in which he allowed three earned runs, seven hits and six walks in four and a third innings, he was returned to Sacramento. But after just two effective starts there, he rejoined the Giants at the end of May.
In 21 starts with the Giants the rest of the way, Beede went 5-9 with a 4.57 ERA, giving up 113 hits and 38 walks while striking out 103. Beede figured in the big club’s plans for what proved to be a COVID-shortened 2020 season, but those plans went up in smoke when he underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in March of that year.
Beede didn’t make it back to the Majors until July of 2021, and he wound up appearing in just one game – a one-inning, 28-pitch relief appearance during which he allowed two hits and three earned runs. He was placed on the 60-day injured list with a lower back strain in mid-August, effectively ending his 2021 season.
This season, he made six appearances for San Francisco, giving up 14 hits, five earned runs and six walks while striking out four in nine and two-thirds innings. But a roster crunch prompted the Giants to designate him for assignment on May 5, and the Pirates claimed him a week later.
So what are the Pirates getting in Beede? I haven’t heard much chatter about him since he joined the roster, but it would make sense to give him the ball and see what he can do. He’s out of options, so he needs to either stay with the Bucs or be released. And while the Giants are contenders in the ultra competitive NL West and have little margin for error, the Pirates can afford to let Beede audition, regardless of the results. If they can do it with Mitch Keller, they can do it with Beede.
Beede certainly has the tools – or at least he had them before the TJ surgery in 2020. No less an authority than Mike Krukow, the longtime Giants broadcaster and a one-time 20-game winner in the big leagues, said that Beede seemed to have a can’t miss look about him during his days at Vanderbilt – days that included a 14-1 record and a 2.32 ERA during his junior year.
Krukow said Beede had four good pitches, a solid frame and the ability to add on to his velocity, and he did just that. Krukow said during an on-air interview on the Giants’ flagship station last week:
“You evaluate as to what you see and what you think this guy can gain as he goes forward, and there was nobody that questioned Beede’s tools. His stuff was legit. But he never, ever could get consistent with the arm slot that allowed him to command his pitches. As he found out, being able to throw hard was important, but so is the location, and he never could do that.”
“I wish him the best. He’s really a great guy. We all got to really like the guy and he took it to heart. He worked his tail off – he did everything he possibly could, but it didn’t work. I hope he goes to Pittsburgh, locks into the rotation and pitches there for 10 years.”
Krukow said Beede’s story just shows how much of an inexact science the MLB draft is. He said:
“There’s no guarantee in baseball. You don’t really know how to evaluate because there’s nothing at the amateur level that’s as close to the speed of the game that is played at the big-league level. Every organization – you look at their path of their first-round picks, and there’s tombstones on the side of the road.”
Beed made his debut for the Pirates in last night’s 9-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs. He went one inning, giving up no runs and no hits with a walk and a strikeout.