Bearded Leader: Seth Beer embracing new look, new role as season approaches
|Thursday, February 1, 2018, 1:25 PM- -|
CLEMSON – Clemson fans will see a different Seth Beer this season, on and off the field.
The talented junior out of Georgia walked into the dugout last week before the first full-squad practice of the season sporting enough facial hair to make him an honorary member of the Duck Dynasty Crew. The beard, in place for now, is used as a means of warmth as South Carolina has dealt with unseasonable cold in recent weeks.
“We’re seeing how it goes. It’s cold, I drive a moped to class and right now it’s pretty cold. So it’s like a sweater for my face,” Beer said of his beard.
What can Beer do to be better on the field? His first two seasons are a study in production. MLB.com ranks Beer as the 27th-best prospect in the 2018 draft - this is Beer’s first time being draft-eligible, after graduating high school a semester early to play at Clemson for the 2016 season and bypassing the 2016 draft.
Beer’s best trait is his combination of power and plate discipline. The left-handed hitting slugger has registered 34 home runs, while drawing 126 walks compared to just 62 strikeouts in his first two seasons at Clemson.
Beer hit .369 with 18 home runs and 70 RBIs in 62 games as freshman in 2016. His performance earned him the Dick Howser Award, which is awarded annually to the college player of the year. He was the first freshman to ever receive the honor. He returned his sophomore season and tallied a .298 average with 16 home runs and 53 RBIs in 63 games for Clemson in 2017.
However, he wants to be more than just a hitter.
“I think one of the biggest things for me is I started focusing more on becoming a good baseball player and not just a great hitter,” Beer said. “So, this year I made it a big thing for me to go out there and take ground balls every day, run the bases right, do the little things right. So at the end of the day, I can walk off the field and say, ‘I got better today.’ Not just as a hitter, but as a baseball player.”
He’s also taken it upon himself to be more of a team leader.
“Just really accepting that leadership role on the team,” catcher Chris Williams said of Beer. “Like he’s always been the guy that everyone has looked up to, and really now he’s accepted it and is really trying to develop our younger guys and push them to be the best they can be. It’s been really fun to watch.”
When Beer first arrived on the Clemson campus, he had older players to help guide him through his first season.
“When I got here my freshman year, that’s a big deal to rely on guys. I had Chris Okey, who I relied heavily on to help me kind of navigate my freshman year,” Beer said. “And you need to have guys like that. It’s been great. Our upperclassmen have really stepped up and provided the insight of this is how things go and this is what you’ve got to do in these situations, and I think that’s why our freshmen are starting to feel more and more comfortable every single day.”
Head coach Monte Lee says Beer is not only a vocal leader – he leads by example, something that Lee is proud of even if it runs up the light bill.
“The one thing about Seth is Seth leads by example. Seth is a young man of very high integrity,” head coach Monte Lee said. “Integrity is what you do publicly and privately, and Seth is a prime example of how to live your life. He’s the guy, I’m so cautious of our players making sure they shut the doors and cut everything off and clean everything up when they’re leaving, and oftentimes I come from the weight room after a workout and I look down and the cage lights are on.
“I’m frustrated because I’m thinking somebody left the lights on, left the cage unlocked and I go walking down there and I can hear that ping. It’s Seth hitting by himself, pretty much every day. He hits before practice. He hits during practice. He lifts weights, and then the guy goes back to hit by himself and he’ll crank up one of our pitching machines and hit by himself for who-knows-how-long. That’s kind of who Seth is.”
Clemson’s 2018 season starts in two weeks with a three-game series against William and Mary, and Beer can’t wait to get started on what will likely be his last season in Clemson.
“I’m super excited, I think the team is too,” Beer said. “We’ve been fighting and grinding through the fall and throughout the winter. Now we’re starting to see the fruits of the labor come to a head. It’s going to be a fun experience. I’m always excited to play baseball. It’s one of those things that’s a dream come true to be able to step out here and play for this team. So, I’m just excited to see where it takes us.”