Much has been made about the state of the Boston Red Sox farm system since the trades for Chris Sale, Craig Kimbrel, Addison Reed, and Eduardo Nunez. However, the Red Sox seem to have a unheralded gem in Jalen Beeks, a left-handed starter who is currently at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Beeks, 24, is a former 12th-round pick in the 2014 draft out of the University of Arkansas. The undersized lefty flew under the radar for much of his early minor-league career, but he has seemed to figure it out at every level. After going 5-1 with a 2.89 ERA at Double-A Portland in 2017, he earned a promotion to Pawtucket and pitched 17 more games with a 3.89 ERA. This success earned him a selection to the Red Sox 40-man roster.
This season, Beeks has been a one-man wrecking crew, with a 2-2 record and 1.93 ERA in seven games this season. That ERA is good for fourth place in the International League, behind top Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves prospects Enyel De Los Santos and Kolby Allard and current Toronto Blue Jays reliever Sam Gaviglio. What is more surprising is Beeks leads the league in strikeouts with 59 in 37.1 innings, 11 ahead of the next closest (Baltimore Orioles prospect Yefry Ramirez).
Beeks isn’t overpowering by any means (he sits between 91-93 mph on his fastball), but he mixes a changeup, curveball, and cutter effectively. While the Red Sox really don’t have an open spot in their rotation at the moment, Beeks should slide into the sixth-starter role for any emergency situation (like a David Price injury relapse or a doubleheader). There are three other hybrid pitchers on the Red Sox staff in Hector Velazquez, Steven Wright, and Brian Johnson, but they should defer to Beeks for a few reasons.
Velazquez is one of the most effective relievers on the Red Sox staff, with his splits indicating he is better suited for a relief role (6-0, 1.07 ERA in 13 relief appearances). At this stage, there isn’t enough of a sample size for Johnson to determine his role, and Wright is getting his first meaningful action in over a year. Beeks is riding a wave of momentum, and other talented young starters like Mike Soroka (Atlanta) and Fernando Romero (Minnesota) have used their momentum to force their way into the big leagues. When the first opportunity arises, Jalen Beeks deserves his chance to make an impact with the Boston Red Sox.