Jackson Holliday will almost certainly go down as the best player from the Orioles’ 2022 draft class—if not the best player in the entire draft. However, that 2022 class is far from shaping up to be a one man show. While no other prospect made it all the way to Triple-A like Holliday, we’ve seen other Orioles draft picks impressively rise through the minors in their own right. Chief among the best of the rest from the ‘22 draft class is fellow first round pick Dylan Beavers.
The Orioles snapped up Beavers with the 33rd pick in the 2022 draft thanks to the prodigious power display he put on as a junior for the Cal Golden Bears. After slugging .634 during his final season in Berkley, Beavers came to the Orioles organization as another tall, left-handed-hitting outfielder with plus power upside. In his debut professional season, the 6’4” slugger dominated in 16 games at Delmarva before hitting a bit of a speed bump in his brief stint at Aberdeen.
The former two-time Pac-12 First Team selection entered 2023 looking to continue with the impressive upward trajectory he began in 2022. Through his first month of the season with the IronBirds, the results were somewhat hit and miss. The good news throughout April was Beavers power continued to play against the stiffer competition at High-A. In 18 games he collected seven doubles, two triples and two HRs to put up an impressive .522 slugging percentage in his first full month at Aberdeen. The concerns came from Beavers’ tendency to swing and miss a fair amount, as he collected as many strikeouts as hits (18) and put up a 27% K-rate in April.
As the 2023 season wore on, things would get worse before they got better for Beavers. May proved to be the most challenging month of the outfielder’s young minor league career. The strikeouts continued to pile up as his K-rate increased to 31%. As the Ks went up, the batting average went down as Beavers struggled to .195 average in 23 games. Perhaps even more concerning was that the usually powerful outfielder went the whole month without hitting a home run.
However, Beavers proved that even when he wasn’t at his best, he could still make an impact in other ways. In May he set a season high with 10 stolen bases in the month. That speed came in handy when he finally got off the HR schneid in June, legging out an inside-the-park homer in a 2-1 win over the Hudson Valley Renegades on June 2.
Dylan Beavers motors around the bases for the little league home run pic.twitter.com/mu2NOdPZJh— Orioles Player Development (@OsPlayerDev) June 3, 2023
That race around the bases seemingly helped Beavers get back on track, as his numbers improved considerably throughout June. Beavers’ batting average in June rose 52 points to a more respectable .247. He also saw an uptick in power as he swatted three HRs, seven doubles and nearly doubled his slugging percentage from May. Beavers’ strikeouts were perhaps still higher than you’d like at 23 Ks in 23 games, but with a 27% K-rate he was back to his early season numbers.
If June was Beavers returning to his normal form, July was him taking his game to a whole other level. It was in the fourth month of the season that the 22-year-old seemed to finally completely figure out High-A pitching. He entered the month on a four-game hit streak and ended up expanding that streak to 12 games in a row with a base knock. The 0-4 night that ended the streak would be one of only four games all month where Beavers failed to record a hit. When things were all said and done in July, the sweet-swinging lefty wrapped up a month where he slashed .397/.494/.691 while mashing four homers and driving in a season-high 18 RBIs. Beavers also continued to cut down on his strikeouts, lowering his K-rate to 23% in July.
It was at that point that the front office decided Beavers had nothing left to prove at Aberdeen, and they officially promoted him to Double-A Bowie on August 2. Unlike his transition from Delmarva to Aberdeen, Beavers needed no time to adjust to this jump in competition. Beavers put up multiple hits in three of his first four games at Double-A and that set the tone for his time with the Baysox. Throughout the month of August, Beavers hit .337 with the Baysox while putting up a .893 OPS and 10 multi-hit games.
The only thing that wavered upon his promotion to Bowie was his home run numbers, as Beavers did not hit his first Double-A HR until September 9. However, his overall numbers for the Baysox were sparkling. Over 34 games, Beavers hit .321 with a .894 OPS while collecting nine doubles, three triples and two homers. The outfielder saw a rise in his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage compared to his numbers for the IronBirds, while also cutting down his strikeout rate from 27% to 23%. After starting out the season as one of the more inconsistent players in the O’s organization, Beavers showed across the last three months why he has all the tools to be the next great OF prospect for the Orioles.
Dylan Beavers Bomb pic.twitter.com/kLCaX52jZX— The Verge- An Orioles MiLB Podcast (@TheVergePod) September 8, 2023
However, Beavers’ timeline for when he’ll have a chance to put his talents on display in Baltimore remains unclear. In a lot of ways his skill set represents a nice blend of what earned Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad their promotions to Baltimore. However, at this point he’s neither a better contact hitter than Cowser nor a better power hitter than Kjerstad. The more well rounded nature of Beavers’ game—and thus the lack of a truly elite skill—may be what ultimately delays his callup.
Unless the Orioles dip into the outfield free agent market or make trade, the 2024 major league outfield is expected to feature the tried and true trio of Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander with Cowser and Kjerstad serving as the bench options. With an average combined age of 26, that quintet doesn’t exactly leave a lot of room to give prospects at-bats at the major league level in the immediate future. Mullins, Hays and Santander have all shown the ability to be All-Star caliber and Kjerstad and Cowser need at-bats if they’re going to reach their lofty potentials.
The best case scenario for Beavers heading into the 2024 season is that he continues his success against Double-A pitching and ultimately earns a call-up to Norfolk. If he proves himself at the minor league’s highest level, he could position himself for a roster spot in 2025 should the Orioles decide to not re-sign Santander. For Beavers to make his debut in 2024, he’d either have to vastly outperform his recent numbers or something would need to go horribly wrong with the Orioles’ incumbent outfielders.
2023 prospect reviews: Alex Pham/Trace Bright, Billy Cook/John Rhodes, International Prospects, Carter Baumler/Seth Johnson, Creed Willems, Justin Armbruester, Max Wagner, Jud Fabian, Mac Horvath, Cade Povich, Chayce McDermott
Wednesday: Enrique Bradfield Jr.