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Baseball: Lambert alum Seth Beer, drafted 28th overall, is ready to turn doubts into fuel
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Lambert graduate Seth Beer was named the winner of the Dick Howser Trophy as college baseball's national player of the year Friday. The Clemson freshman outfielder hit .369 with 18 homers, 13 doubles, 70 RBIs and a .535 on-base percentage. - photo by File photo

Seth Beer surely knew that this moment was coming. The hype started when he was at Lambert, where he skipped the opportunity to be drafted out of high school by enrolling early at Clemson, and continued with the Tigers, where he became one of the most dominant and well-known college players in the country. Clips of his majestic home runs went viral, and his last name offered ample opportunities for good-natured puns. 

And now it's finally happened, with Beer going 28th overall to the Houston Astros in the first round of the MLB Draft on Monday night, making him the highest-drafted Forsyth County native ever. Still, it hasn't fully sunk in.

"It's honestly still a little bit of a surreal experience, you even telling me that," Beer said on Tuesday.

Beer hasn't signed as of Wednesday, with his camp waiting for the Astros to finish up the draft before settling the final details. But he's expected to go pro, and the 28th pick is slotted for a $2,399,400 signing bonus, setting a baseline for what Beer will get. 

Beer had an idea that he would go in the general range that he did, but that didn't do much to calm the nerves he experienced on the draft night. The excitement of seeing former teammates and opponents get picked turned to exhilarating anxiety, and Beer started feverishly checking his phone as the first round neared its close. He hadn't talked to the Astros much during the spring, but that was only part of the reason for the shock Beer experienced at the pick. 

"I was just taken aback and basically almost frozen, because I was like, 'You've got to be kidding me: A team that just won the World Series decided to take me?'" Beer said. "It was just a true honor and a true blessing."

Beer can now turn his focus to his development as a pro, where evaluators have already expressed significant reservations. He has hit for power and average and shown some of the best plate discipline in the country: In 188 games with Clemson, Beer had 180 walks to 98 strikeouts, and in his historic freshman season, he totaled more than twice as many free passes (62) as whiffs (27).

But his time hitting with wood during the summer with the Collegiate National Team has been less impressive, as he hit just .232 with a .304 slugging percentage last summer. Beer is also a below-average runner and will have to make significant progress to play the field in the big leagues. 

Now that he's made it to the pros, though, those doubts can become motivation for Beer. 

"If they see me enough to pick me apart, then I guess I've been on the radar long enough," Beer said. "...It really just fuels me when it comes to that kind of stuff. Because the Astros took the time to give me a shot and give me a chance to help their organization, (so) all I can do is pay them back."