09 July 2007

Below the Surface: Minor League Spotlight

Pedro Beato, SP, Delmarva Shorebirds

A promising high school pitcher who had really only his fastball. It ran in the low 90s and scouts love that. Beato ran into some arm trouble, specifically Tommy John surgery, and was a 32nd round pick by the Mets in '05. A draft and follow guy, he eluded the Mets attempts to sign him and landed in the 2006 supplemental first round, 32nd overall to the Orioles. He had fully recovered at this point and began working on a curve and a changeup . . . both are incredibly raw.

2006 saw him sign quickly (for a cool 1MM) and assigned to the Aberdeen Ironbirds. He threw 57 innings. He had some strong outings and fell apart in others. He threw 8 Ks/9 and walked 3.6 batters per 9. Hitters averaged 7.4 hits per nine. The numbers suggest a powerful pitcher with average control. His ERA was 3.63, which is deceptive. He is a groundball pitcher, inducing nearly 50% of his hits as grounders (most likely due to an overpowering fastball with slight control problems . . . 19 and 20 year olds will have trouble hitting that . . . 22 and 23 year olds won't) resulting in nearly a 1/3 of the total runs against him to be unearned. His "true" ERA should be around 4, which is a solid prospect. Not Mark Prior, but certainly someone who would become a strong setup man or a solid number three pitcher.

2007 is seeing him go deeper into games and throwing a lot more innings. He has already hit 89 innings, which suggests that the Orioles may go to a six man squad or end his season early. Typically, you do not want to have your pitcher go too far beyond a 30 innings increase in inings from the previous year. If they treat Beato like Erbe, they'll give him about five more outings and shut him down. Of course, he is not pitching like Erbe. Beato has dropped to 7.2 K/9, increased to 3.9 BB/9, and increased to 9 hits/inning. This is actually fine though. He is young and it looks like he has progressed at the same rate as the rest of the talent. His Ks are down and his BBs are up for two reasons: 1) better control and 2) smarter hitters. His hit rate is going up because he is: 1) facing better competition and 2) striking less people out. His ERA is at 3.54, but should be around 3.80. He is still a groundball pitcher, but single A defenses are slightly better.

So what does this all mean?
He has not injured himself, which is good. He did make some progress in learning his ware. He has not shown the amazing ability of Brandon Erbe. So . . . to me he looks like a potential fourth starter or a setup man if he develops a second pitch. He could be a number 2 if he fully develops both of his secondary pitches. I don't see that happening. I figure he'll be a number 3 when it is all said and done . . . but it is hard to see that from here. He has a great arm . . . he just needs to hone it. We should expect him to break out next year in Frederick or the following year in Bowie. If he does well in Frederick in '08 . . . look for him as a September callup in '09. If he breaks out in Bowie in '09, he'll surface midseason in '10.

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