For the second time in his professional career former Toombs County Bulldog Jeremy Beasley was matched against a Major League pitcher in a minor league game.
Last season, while he was a member of the Inland Empire 66ers of the Advanced A California League, Beasley threw 4 2/3 innings allowing six hits and two earned runs with seven strikeouts and no walks at Rancho Cucamonga. The starting pitcher for the Quakes was Walker Buehler. The Los Angeles Dodger righty worked three innings and he allowed two hits and an earned run with five strikeouts and one walk.
On Saturday night in Mississippi, at the home of the Atlanta Braves AA affiliate in the Southern League, the starting pitcher was Dallas Keuchel. He recently signed a one-year, $13 million deal with the Braves. Keuchel was making his second minor league start. On June 10 he pitched seven innings of shutout ball for the Class A Rome Braves of the South Atlantic League and yielded only one hit and no runs with nine strikeouts and one walk.
For Jeremy pitching against a quality Major League starter who has won 76 games and went 20-8 in 2015 made this appearance different from a regular night in the Southern League. “I was honestly excited because of all of the accolades the guy has,” Beasley said. “It’s honestly an honor to share the mound with a guy like that.”
Despite the opposition Jeremy says he had a job to do. “It wasn’t much of a difference to me. I had to face the hitters and not him, so I focused on those guys and didn’t let that fact that he was there affect me.”
In the Beasley versus Keuchel match up the numbers say Jeremy came out on top. The top 30 prospect of the Los Angeles Angels went 5 1/3 innings and allowed six hits and two earned runs with five strikeouts and one walk. Meanwhile, the 2015 Cy Young Award winner tossed seven innings and allowed 11 hits with four strikeouts and one walk. Jeremy left the game in the sixth inning with his Mobile BayBear team leading 3-2.
Keuchel exited after the top of the seventh with Mobile still leading by one. However, the Braves scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to an extra inning and Mississippi scored one more on a walk-off single by former Baybear Riley Unroe. The sharply hit grounder was deflected by the pitcher and bounced into center field to give Mississippi a 4-3 win. The Braves also won the second game of the doubleheader 3-2.
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Beasley is 3-3 with a 3.34 ERA- the lowest earned run average on the Mobile pitching staff and the 11th best in the Southern League. He also leads his team in strikeouts with 55 and has walked 25 batters.
With his four shutout frames against Mississippi, this season 42-of-his-53 (79.2 %) complete innings have been shutout innings. For his career 148 of Jeremy’s 188 complete innings have been shutout innings for a percentage of 78.7%.
Both pitchers gave up two runs in the first inning. Mobile stroked three singles and Beasley yielded two solo home runs to hot hitters. Jeremy entered the game having allowed only five long balls in 54 innings.
After striking out leadoff hitter Cristian Pache swinging on five pitches, Beasley threw one pitch to switch hitter Drew Waters and he hit it over the right field fence. Waters is on a nine-game hitting streak. The second round draft choice in 2017, from Etowah High School in Woodstock, is batting .337 and has now hit five homers including two in his last three games. Waters went 2-for-4 against Jeremy.
A fly out on a 2-0 pitch to left was followed by the second home run on a 1-2 pitch to left center by Ryan Casteel. His eighth homer of the season and the 72nd of his career.
“I was shocked to have given up two homers, but it’s baseball. Some days there are swings and misses and some days you give up home runs. I try to just stick with my execution and not worry about the result. It’s out of my control once it leaves my hand.”
Unroe doubled and took third on a pass ball, but he didn’t score. A fly ball to left ended an active first inning.
The second inning was much kinder for both pitchers. Keuchel needed 12 pitches to retire the BayBears. He allowed a single and recorded his outs on a ground out to third, a swinging strikeout and a liner to left. Beasley had a three-up, three-down frame on 11 pitches. A strikeout and two ground outs to second and it was on to the third inning in a 2-2 game.
“I’ve definitely figured something out with my execution. After the first inning I had to calm myself down and come back to earth. My stuff has been really good so I trust everything I throw is going to get weak contact or a swing and miss,” Beasley said.
Keuchel gave up three singles in the third inning, but nobody scored thanks to a 6-4-3 double play and a pop up to third base. Jeremy allowed a two out single. A fly ball to center, a grounder to second and a line out to short took care of the Braves.
The BayBears took a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning. Connor Justice doubled and Brandon Sanger singled him in. Meanwhile, Jeremy cruised through the frame thanks to a fly ball to center and ground outs to short and third.
The Big Leaguer finally had a three-up, three-down in the fifth as Mobile batters grounded out to third and second and lined out to short. In Jeremy’s final full frame he induced a ground out to third, gave up an infield hit and he struck out the final two batters, Pache and Waters, both swinging.
In the sixth Keuchel walked a batter and gave up a single while Beasley walked the first batter and yielded a single. His final pitch was bunted and Mobile got the lead runner out at third.
So. what is next for Jeremy. The Southern League All-Star break. Three days off from June 17-10. “I”m excited for the couple of off days. The team needs it and most of the guys are excited for the chance to see their families.