Clark Beeker was kind enough to answer some of our questions about his two-month pro career and what led him to this point. Thank you Clark, for your time and thought-filled responses.
Seth Stohs (SS): Growing up in North Carolina, what was your favorite team to follow? Who were some of your favorite players?
Clark Beeker (CB): To be honest, I’ve never had a favorite professional baseball team. I would watch Braves games since they were the closest team to North Carolina and often on TV, but I mainly enjoyed watching certain players. I loved watching Derek Jeter and Pedro Martinez play because of how they carried themselves and the way they played the game.
SS: What were some of the better memories of your high school baseball career? Did you play other sports or were you involved in other activities?
CB: Playing in the state playoffs every year was an awesome experience, just because of the impact of a win-or-go-home playoff scenario and the intensity of the crowds. My best memory was signing to continue playing at Davidson College and knowing that I would get to continue playing at a high level.
SS: What was the recruitment process like for you out of high school, and what was it about Davidson that made you want to go there?
CB: Davidson was really the only school that I strongly considered for playing baseball. I received interest from schools in the Northeast, but being able to receive an education at one of the most prestigious schools in the country, the opportunity to contribute early on, and playing in front of my family was the quintessential perfect situation.
SS: What were a couple of your highlights from your college years at Davidson?
CB: Having Tommy John surgery during my sophomore year (2013) was actually a blessing in disguise. Surgery allowed me the chance to come back for a red-shirt fifth year, which ultimately led to my best season and being drafted. Being named All-Atlantic 10 First Team and All-Academic Team were also terrific honors, but being a part of the winningest season in Davidson history and elevating the program to a new standard were the things that I will take away the most.
SS: Did you have the chance to speak with many scouts before the draft? Did you have any idea where in the draft you might be selected? What was your interaction with the Twins scout?
CB: I filled out a handful of questionnaires for various teams and spoke with a few scouts that wanted to gauge my interest in signing later in the draft. I spoke with Ricky Taylor after he saw me in my second-to-last start, but I was uncertain of my standing going into the draft. I knew that going undrafted was a definite possibility, but I tried to remain optimistic.
SS: The Twins took you in the 33rd round. How did you find out that you had been drafted? How busy was your phone at that moment?
CB: I was actually following the draft online; I had the audio of the draft tracker playing in the background as I was watching TV. I heard my name called, and it took a second before I was able to process this was actually happening. The next thirty minutes or so were such a whirlwind. My phone was blowing up from text messages and phone calls. Telling my brother (also plays baseball, freshman at Swarthmore College) that I had been drafted was something I’ll never forget; the excitement in his voice was well worth the wait.
SS: What has the adjustment like for you, from the college game to the professional game, both on and off the field?
CB: Going to college definitely prepared me for the talent level in professional baseball and being able to adapt to unfamiliar situations. The learning curve was shortened, but it is impossible to dismiss the talent and ambition of each player to some day play in the big leagues.
SS: You pitched well out of the GCL bullpen and then made two solid starts in Elizabethton before the season ended. Have you had a chance to reflect on your first season in pro baseball?
CB: You obviously remember the outings you struggled or the pitches you didn’t execute, but I was pleased with the results of my first season in professional baseball. The next step is making sure to limit negative outcomes and build on any success.
SS: At this very early stage in your career, what would you say are your biggest strengths? What pitches do you throw and what do you consider your best or out pitch?
CB: My biggest strength would have to be my ability to get ahead in counts with a variety of pitches. I throw a fastball, slider, curveball, and a changeup that I feel comfortable throwing in most situations. I’ve always felt that a well-located fastball is difficult to hit and probably the pitch I rely on most.
SS: What are the areas of your game that you would like to spend time working to improve?
CB: I would definitely like to improve on my ability to read hitters and their approach in the batter’s box. You can learn a lot about a hitter’s strengths, holes, or philosophy based on their stance or approach to certain pitches. Being able to accurately read a hitter can significantly improve my mental edge over the hitter.
SS: What was your major in school? What do you do to get away from baseball?
CB: I majored in political science and minored in communication studies. I’m an avid college basketball fan, I enjoy reading, and like most 23-year-olds, binge watching TV shows.
SS: Who are some of the people who have helped you get to this point in your career?
CB: There is no telling how many hours my parents have spent driving me to practices over the years or making the hour-long trek to Davidson to watch me play. My brother shares the same passion for baseball, and we’ve been each others number one fan and critic. My pitching coach in high school, Greg Simpson, provided me with the foundation for being a successful pitcher and Dick Cooke, my head coach and pitching coach at Davidson, showed that being a professional in baseball and other walks of life are not exclusive of each other.
SS: Favorite baseball movie?
CB: The Sandlot, hands down.
A big Thank You to Clark Beeker for taking the time to respond to our questions. Please feel free to ask questions and comment below.