More Than Comfortable In New Role
: Drafted out of the University of Mississippi as a starting pitcher, T.J. Beam
was moved to the bullpen in Spring Training last season after posting just a 4-6 record with a 4.86 ERA as a starter in the long-season leagues. The shift to the bullpen proved to be a wise one as Beam went 4-4 with a 1.99 ERA as a reliever in two stops between Charleston and Tampa before earning Arizona Fall League All-Star honors with a 1.53 ERA in 11 games against the best hitting prospects in the game. For the purposes of this article, we'll examine Beam's splits against South Atlantic League batters since he logged his most amount of time there.
Strong As An Ox
: At 6'7" and just 215 pounds, Beam seemingly could use a little more weight to help with his endurance. However, judging from his splits in 2005, Beam only got stronger as the season wore on, dispelling any questions about his shape. He went 1-3 with a 2.01 ERA in his first 24 appearances with the Riverdogs, which was remarkable since he had just begun his transition to the bullpen.
Proving he could handle himself a level higher in the Florida State League, Beam was even better upon his return to Charleston to help the Riverdogs fight for the South Atlantic League championship. He went a perfect 2-0 with one save and posted a 0.60 ERA in his last 11 games with the Riverdogs, limiting opposing batters to a ridiculous .137 batting average during that stretch. If you include his dominating performance in the AFL, Beam not only didn't tire as the season wore on, he got stronger and better with each passing month.
What Limited Role
: Judging from his consistent success against right-handed and left-handed batters in the South Atlanic League, T.J. Beam will not be relegated to any sort of right-handed specialist out of the bullpen. He's simply too good against left-handed batters to limit his role as a reliever like that.
He held opposing left-handed batters to a .206 batting average and righties struggled to hit .207 off of him in 2005. Averaging a shade over 11 strikeouts per 9 innings against left-handed batters last season, Beam's strikeout ratios only jumped up to a little more than 12 strikeouts per 9 innings against right-handed batters. The fact that he does so well against lefties bodes well for his future as a potential setup man or possible closer.
Hostile Environments Not A Problem
: Posting an ERA nearly one and half runs better on the road - he had a 0.92 ERA on the road and a 2.37 at home - it is clear that Beam doesn't get bothered by pitching away from home. Joseph P. Riley Park, home of the Charleston Riverdogs, has gotten the reputation as one of the better hitters' ball parks in the South Atlantic League over the years. So while his numbers at home were higher, it isn't too surprising.
In fact, opposing batters hit just .200 against him at home and .213 on the road, but both home runs he served up in the South Atlantic League last season came at Joseph P. Riley Park. Beam's success in a hitters' friendly ball park, and more importantly, his dominating performance on the road, are also good signs for his future development.
Still Has A Little Starter In Him
: As dominating as his performance was in 2005, his first year as a reliever, the scary part about Beam's splits is that there is still room for improvement. Pitching much better with the bases empty than with runners on base, Beam still has a little starter in him, which is to be expected.
Opposing batters hit .240 off of him with runners on base in 2005, his highest average against among all of his splits. Considering opponents hit just .180 off of him with the bases empty, Beam shows a clear favoritism towards pitching from the wind-up. Throw in the fact opposing leadoff batters could only muster a .122 batting average, Beam is more effective starting an inning than coming in with inherited runners. He still has some room to improve pitching with runners on base, but overall, the fact he did as well in his first year in a new role are huge pluses for him.
Setup Or Closer Forthcoming
: When the game was on the line in 2005 was when T.J. Beam was at his best. Opponents hit .250 off of him in the first six innings of games in the South Atlantic League last season and Beam posted a 3.38 ERA during those times - very average numbers. However, in the clutch situations, Beam morphed himself into an elite reliever.
Pitching in the seventh inning and beyond of his games in 2005, T.J. Beam posted a mind-boggling 0.70 ERA and opposing batters hit a pathetic .179 off of him. It was his performance in the latter stages of games that forced the Yankees to protect him this past season and put him on the 40-man roster. There aren't many relief pitching prospects who can show that kind of dominance when the game is on the line. If Beam can continue his late-inning heroics in 2006 and beyond, he'll become a setup man or even possibly a closer down the road.
"Splitsville" is a series of articles on the Yankees' prospects that we'll be doing throughout their minor league careers. In version one/chapter one (v1.1) of T.J. Beam, we'll look how he did against the right-handed hitters versus the lefty hitters, how he pitched on the road versus at home, and more, while pitching for the Charleston Riverdogs.
Here are the pertinent splits for RHP T.J. Beam with the Charleston Riverdogs in 2005.