Matt Beaty one of Dodgers rookies making strong case for postseason roster spot

first_img Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Alex Verdugo has played the most games among the Dodgers’ 2019 rookies. But he has not played since early August, sidelined by a flareup of back pain that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts admitted last week makes it “very unlikely” Verdugo will be on the active roster for the first round of the playoffs.Will Smith is certain to be on that postseason roster, having taken over as the Dodgers’ primary catcher in late July. Tony Gonsolin and/or Dustin May are good bets to be part of the postseason pitching staff. A late entry, Gavin Lux has been impressive enough with his skill set and advanced maturity for a 21-year-old to remain an October possibility.All of those rookies were either high draft picks or entered this season high on the prospect watch lists. Matt Beaty really wasn’t. He was a 12th-round draft pick out of Belmont University in 2015 and wasn’t in Baseball America’s list of the Dodgers’ top 10 prospects heading into 2019 – he didn’t even make any of their ‘Best Tools’ lists from the Dodgers’ farm system.But Beaty might have earned a spot on a Dodgers’ postseason roster.“I’ve always believed in myself. I’ve always known that every level I go to I have to prove that I belong,” Beaty said when asked if he had exceeded his own expectations this year. “I just wanted the opportunity to show that I belong. Like I said, I’ve always believed in myself. So – am I surprised? I think I’d be kidding myself if I said I was. At the same time, yeah, it’s been a really good year for me. Especially with the way things went last year. I was hurt (a torn thumb ligament). Only played 30, 35 games. “Yeah, I did expect to spend more time in OKC this year but this is how things unfolded this year.”Roberts said he knew only the basics about Beaty from the occasional spring training at-bat. What he has seen over 89 big-league games now is a hitter with a mature approach at the plate and ability to manage an at-bat.“What I knew about Matt was that he could hit a fastball and he knew the strike zone,” Roberts said. “What I learned to really appreciate about him is his baseball IQ and his willingness to hunt pitches and make adjustments whether it be in an at-bat or game to game based on how people are pitching him. That’s something, for me, that I’ve grown to appreciate.”Beaty credits current Cubs assistant hitting coach Terrmel Sledge for helping him develop that asset. Sledge was the hitting coach at Double-A Tulsa when Beaty had a breakout season – a .326 average and .883 OPS in a Texas League that does not yield those numbers easily.“I just think it’s a general experience. I mean, I’ve been playing baseball all my life basically,” Beaty said. “But it really probably started in Double-A with Terrmel Sledge. I went through a big mechanics change with Jay Gibbons the year before in High-A (Rancho Cucamonga). Then in Double-A, Sledge was really good about bringing the approach side of things in it for me.“He helped tie in the mechanics and the approach side of things. He would say, ‘You’re not going to feel good mechanically every day but you can do the work, study how pitchers are going to attack you and plan out what your approach needs to be every day.’ I think that helps a lot. I’ve always been a believer that a good approach will outweigh bad mechanics more than good mechanics can overcome a bad approach.”Beaty’s approach has produced a .279 average, an .813 OPS and 46 RBIs (tops among the Dodgers’ rookies). Since Verdugo went to the Injured List, Beaty’s opportunities have come more frequently and he has started at first base, left field and even third base (with Justin Turner sidelined by an ankle injury).Now Verdugo’s absence could clear a spot for Beaty to make the postseason roster.Related Articles How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco “Him and I kind of profile as a similar-type hitter – contact guy who gets on base, lefty off the bench,” Beaty said. “I didn’t really think about that (the postseason roster opportunity). I think more about him and what he’s going through. Obviously he doesn’t want to be on the shelf right now. He wants to help this team win the World Series so I just think about him and hope he can have a speedy recovery. You know, competition is good and it’s fun. You try not to think about those types of things.”With so much still to be hashed out about the roster before the NLDS starts, Roberts will say only that Beaty is “in the mix” and would be a valuable piece of a potential roster. The Dodgers manager does acknowledge that Verdugo’s absence aids Beaty.“It has. It’s certainly opened the door more for him,” Roberts said. “His ability to hit right-handed pitching, his ability to take an at-bat off the bench, his ability he’s shown to be able to play first base, third base and left field – that versatility certainly helps his case.“He’s done nothing but show us he’s deserving of that potential opportunity.”center_img The Dodgers have thrown their clubhouse doors wide open to rookies this year.Six first-timers have played at least a dozen games in the field. Three more have pitched in at least a handful of games.Those position player rookies have combined to contribute a .279 batting average, 42 home runs, 124 runs scored, 141 driven in and a remarkable .516 slugging percentage. They even had their own weekend, taking center stage with walk-off hits in three consecutive victories over the Colorado Rockies in June.Those doors are about to get more narrow when the Dodgers make the decisions that will set their postseason roster. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start last_img

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