Austin Beck says that he knew he had the talent to be a top MLB draft pick as early as his sophomore year of high school. However, when the time actually came and he was selected as the Oakland Athletics first-round pick, his emotions took over.
“I’m at a loss for words. I don’t really have any words. They all went out the door when my name was called,” Beck said on a conference call with A’s media shortly after his selection.
Beck is the first high school player the A’s have selected with their first pick since 2013, when Oakland took Texas high school outfielder Billy McKinney. At the sixth-overall selection, Beck is the first high school position player the A’s have selected with a top-10 pick since they took Eric Chavez with the 10th overall pick in 1996.
At this time last year, Beck was in the beginning stages of a recovery from a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee. The North Davidson HS star injured his knee on May 13, 2016 during warm-ups before a state playoff game. Beck’s rehab from the injury was grueling, but he says his support system helped keep him positive during his recovery.
“It was really tough. I had to have my family and my friends back me up,” Beck said. “I think it made me a better player because it made me really appreciate the game.”
Beck’s draft stock was somewhat uncertain going into the 2017 season because he had to miss the summer showcase circuit while recovering from the injury. He says showing that he was healthy was a driver for him going into the season, but he was also confident in his ability.
“I was definitely motivated to show my skills and prove that I was worthy of a top draft pick,” Beck said. “But I felt like I had showed well the season before and the summer before. I was focused coming in to showing people that I was healthy again.”
Once the high school season began, it didn’t take long for Beck to show scouts that he was healthy and worthy of being a first-round pick. Beck hit .590/.700/1.218 during his senior season and wowed scouts with his power-and-speed combination.
Growing up in Atlanta Braves territory, Beck says his favorite player as a kid was Chipper Jones. However, he says his favorite current player is Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen. Beck has a similar profile to McCutchen as a right-handed centerfielder who hits for power, average and runs well.
Beck played three years in right field and one year in center. He says he’s happy to play either spot, but that he enjoys being the quarterback of the outfield.
The A’s scouted Beck closely during his high school season, but their interest in him became more apparent last week when Beck was invited to the Coliseum for a private workout. Beck reportedly wowed the A’s front office during the workout. Beck says he enjoyed the opportunity.
“It was really exciting meet them. They gave great feedback just going back and talking to them. They were really great people too,” Beck said. “I felt really great at the workout. I hit a few balls out of the park and threw some for them too, but most of it was getting to know the people.”
Beck liked hitting in his possible future home park.
“It was amazing. I was so excited to actually hit in the Coliseum,” Beck said. “I heard the ball flies there, so I was excited to get out there and hit BP.”
Despite being from the Southeast, Beck says he has familiarity with the A’s organization.
“I’m a big baseball fan, so I knew quite a bit about the organization and Neil [Avent], the area scout, taught me a lot about it too,” Beck said.
Beck is committed to the North Carolina Tar Heels, but he hinted at a preference for turning pro. Beck’s agent will be Adam Rosenthal.
“It has always been my dream to be drafted really high and play for a spot on the 40-man roster,” Beck said.
Beck cites his competitiveness and will to win as major aspects of his game.
“I got out there to play as hard as I can every time, 110%,” Beck said.
Once he signs, Beck’s first stop as a professional will be Arizona. But, for now, Beck will hit the water. His post-draft celebration plans include a date with his buddies on the lake.
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