In 2011, Beeks graduated from Prairie Grove High School in Prairie Grove, Arkansas. During one game his junior season, Jalen struck out 21 hitters.
After high school, Jalen went to Crowder Junior College in Neosho, Missouri. Then he transferred to the University of Arkansas on a baseball scholarship. He majored in kinesiology.
With Arkansas in 2014, he was 5-4 with a 2.11 ERA during the regular season.
In 2014, the Red Sox drafted Beeks (see Transactions below).
The Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Jalen as the 11th-best prospect in the Red Sox organization in the spring of 2018.
- June 2014: Beeks was the 13th round pick by the Red Sox, out of the University of Arkansas. He signed with scout Chris Mears.
- July 25, 2018: The Rays traded RHP Nathan Eovaldi to the Red Sox for Jalen Beeks.
|Birth City:||Fayetteville, AR|
|Draft:||Red Sox #12 - 2014 - Out of Univ. of Arkansas|
Beeks has a 90-94 mph 4-seam FASTBALL, though his velocity drops to 88-91 mph after five or six innings. Jalen has a good CUT FASTBALL that he gets in on the hands of righthanders. He also has a solid-average CURVEBALL, a short, late offering. Jalen locates his swing-and-miss 4-seam CHANGEUP well. It has impressive depth.
Jalen lacks overpowering velocity, but he’s a north-south guy a little bit. There’s some ride at the top and a good breaking ball (from the left side). He's just got some good pitch-ability feel. (Spring, 2019)
His cutter allows Jalen to attack to his glove side opening up the plate for his entire repertoire.
“I feel like I’m able to throw any pitch in any count . . . to just about any location right now,” Beeks said before 2018 spring training. “I’m not as predictable, I guess. Just being able to (mix pitches) has opened up a lot of holes in swings.”
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 42.7% of the time; Sinker less than 1%; Change 18.3%; Curve 18.8%; and his Cutter 19.7% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 92.3 mph, Sinker 93.5, Change 87.3, Curve 77.2, and Cutter 87.6 mph.
Jalen throws quality strikes. He has impressive competitiveness. And he has a high baseball IQ.
While Beeks’ velocity is close to average, it nonetheless generates a lot of swings and misses. That’s because of his unpredictable pitch mix as well as good extension that allowed the ball to get on hitters and plenty of pitch movement, both horizontal and vertical.
“He’s not going to overwhelm you with velocity, but it plays higher than that,” Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said. “He has swing-and-miss to his fastball.”
Jalen tends to get a lot of ground balls.
Rays general manager Erik Neander noted that Jalen "can really pitch," which accounts for his high strikeout numbers.
"He can ride the fastball, he can move it in and out," Neander said. "There's glove-side command, there's arm-side command, and there's feel to elevate. He's got a cutter. He's got a curveball. He's got a changeup. There's a lot of mix. There's a lot of setting up. There's a lot of sequencing.
"I don't necessarily think right now he has a go-to strikeout pitch that he can lean on. I think a lot of those strikeouts in Triple-A have been more of a product of pitching and setting guys up."
Clearly, Neander wants to see what Beeks can do at the Major League level. "With a guy like that, I think it's essential to give him an opportunity to get feedback at the Major League level, to better learn what sequences work, what sequences don't," Neander said. "Where the strike zone is, and so on. And there's no real substitute for getting that opportunity." (Chastain - mlb.com - 7/25/18)
- 2019 Improvements: How has he done it? Maybe, the 23-year-old lefty attributes his newfound success to a slight change in his delivery by hiding the ball more. And reliance on his changeup. He has gone to his changeup early and often this season, throwing it 15% more than he did last season.
Beeks has almost completely moved away from his cutter and instead pivoted towards his changeup. In 2018, Beeks threw 880 pitches, 162 of them were changeups. In 2019, Beeks has thrown only 523 pitches, but has already thrown 14 more changeups (176).
But there’s more. He isn’t just throwing the change piece more often but he is throwing it to lefthanded hitters more often as well. In 2018, Beeks only threw 2 changeups to left handed hitters; in 2019 he has already thrown 41.
He has surely found something new in his changeup, because it has become a truly devastating pitch against lefthanded hitters. (Austin Reimann-Fansided- May 19, 2019)
Beeks talks about his changeup: “I had a changeup in high school, but it wasn’t very good. When I got to college, I changed the grip; I moved my pinky finger down. It’s pretty much a circle change. I grip it hard and think about it almost like a fastball. I don’t pronate. No one taught it to me. I just threw it one day and it worked. You have to tinker. You have to figure out what works for you.
“It’s gotten better over the last year. I think that’s mainly from my mechanics having changed a little bit. I use my legs more, and have shortened my arm action. I’m not so tall on the mound now. I’m activating my legs more, by getting into more of a squat position. And like I said, I think fastball. I throw it as hard as I can. My average fastball is around 92 [mph] and my changeup is around 88.
“The movement is what makes it effective. It comes out on the same plane as my fastball for a long time, and then kind of drops off. The velo is similar enough that you can’t re-adjust, per se. A lot of hitters are so good that they can recognize changeup and stay back and hit it. This one is close to the same speed, and either a heater or a changeup. If you don’t see the spin, you basically have to guess which one.
“I don’t know what the spin rate on it is, but I’m guessing it’s higher than the average changeup. Frankly, I see the pitch pretty much as a sinker. It’s most effective when I’m putting it down and away.” (David Laurila - Fangraphs- May 13, 2019)
May 2014: Beeks missed the last two weeks of his junior season at Arkansas, including the post-season.