When Lambert alum Seth Beer walked into Security Bank Ballpark in Midland, Texas on May 18, he felt like he had something to prove to himself.
Just a few days earlier, his quick and steady rise through the Houston Astros’ farm system had just continued, as he was promoted to the Class AA Corpus Christi Hooks on May 16. It wasn’t that much of a surprise given the kind of numbers he’d put up with the Class A Advanced Fayetteville Woodpeckers: He hit .328 in 35 games with them and led the Carolina League with nine home runs and 34 RBIs. Beer excitedly called his loved ones to relay the news and quickly made his way to Texas to join his new team, all the while being awake for 36 straight hours.
His debut at the next level wasn’t the statement performance he wanted, though: Beer went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his first appearance with the Hooks. Some faint doubts began to creep up in his mind, but he quickly erased them the very next day. During his first at-bat in his second game with Corpus Christi, he connected on a single to right to record his first AA hit. As he stood on first, he felt a sense of relief.
“It was kind of a moment after I got the first hit (where) I was like, ‘All right, I belong here. I can do it,’” Beer said.
That newfound self-assuredness immediately paid dividends. He crushed a pitch over the center field wall during his second plate appearance for his first AA home run, and he ultimately ended his day with three hits and two RBIs.
“I just felt like I had a lot of confidence stepping into the box there,” Beer said. “I went out there and just competed like if I was playing in the backyard with my buddies. The game is the same, and that was the thing that I was remembering.”
Since being selected with the 28th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft out of Clemson, Beer’s ascent through the Astros’ system has seen no signs of slowing down. As of June 10, he’s hitting .280 with 19 RBIs over 23 games with the Hooks. Over his first year of playing professional baseball, he hasn’t spent more than 35 games with any single team, and with everything he’s learning in the minors, he’s closing in on making his dream of being a major leaguer a reality.
“It's been fun,” Beer said. “Obviously, it's been a grind. I've been from one side of the country to the other. It's been a fun journey thus far and I'm just excited for the opportunity the Astros have given me. It's been a blast.”
For Beer, the biggest thing that’s surprised him since being called up is the caliber of the pitching he’s now routinely facing. Understanding what makes them so effective and adjusting to that has been the key to his success so far.
“Facing arms out of the bullpen or even sometimes starters that are throwing 96 and up to 100 on a daily basis, it's a challenge,” Beer said. “It's been a big learning curve for me from High A to AA, but it's just one of those things that you have to keep working at.”
Another challenge for Beer has been in the field. Beer has historically been an outfielder in high school and college and was drafted as one, but the Astros have been preparing him to play first base in AA, and it’s where he gets the majority of his starts.
“Primarily at first base I've gotten a lot better,” Beer said. “Regularly playing first base in AA has been a huge deal for me, getting the reps that I need to be prepared to play that position.”
Besides all the on-field work, there’s also the grind of all the travel that comes with playing professional baseball. Beer knows people in similar situations that have given him a heads-up about that, but in the Texas League, that aspect has just been magnified with just how massive the state is.
“It can get hard sometimes,” Beer said. “You're playing every day and you're going through the night sometimes. You have six, seven, sometimes 12-hour bus rides, and you play the next day. It wasn't much of a surprise for me, but hearing about it is one thing. Doing it is a completely different thing, in my opinion.”
Beer still has a few more steps to go before his long-term goal of being a big leaguer comes to fruition. He may be in the minors for a while longer, but as he always reminds himself, the game is the same at whatever level he’s at. Until that long-awaited day where he hopefully joins the Astros, that in itself is enough for him.
“I'm just living the dream that I've always wanted,” Beer said. “I couldn't be happier. It's a grind, but it's the best job I could ask for.”