Dylan Beavers believed he would mostly pitch in his collegiate career at the University of California, Berkeley. But he didn’t pitch in his freshman season during the pandemic-shortened year in 2020.
When he returned to campus in fall 2020, pitching was an afterthought for Beavers. He is fine no longer being a pitcher and prefers hitting and playing in the outfield. He has thrived in his first two years as an outfielder at Cal to develop into one of the top players in college baseball.
“I feel like I am a completely different player after being here for a couple of years,” Beavers said. “I really love the environment here and the coaches. It is kind of night and day compared to when I showed up on how much I have developed. I am a lot more polished and a better hitter now.”
Besides improving his skills on the field, Beavers also has enhanced his status as a pro prospect. Scouts project Beavers as a potential first-round pick in the 2022 MLB draft.
“It’s weird because I have always kind of been under the radar,” said Beavers on the draft attention. “I am not super surprised because I put in a ton of work. It’s just good to see it all pay off and see my development.”
After hitting .250 in 28 at-bats in a pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Beavers returned for his sophomore year and made major strides at the plate. He added about 25 of muscle to his frame and it led to him hitting the ball with more authority.
Beavers batted .303 with 11 doubles, two triples, 18 home runs and 49 RBIs in 211 at-bats in 55 games last season.
Beavers is a 6-foot-4, 206-pound left-handed hitting outfielder and an aggressive hitter who hits for average and power. He sometimes expands the zone due to his aggressive approach, but he has made strides at the plate to turn into a more polished hitter.
“My ability to hit for power is probably my biggest strength at this moment,” Beavers said.
He has some speed and spent the offseason refining his base-stealing technique and approach.
Beavers’ athleticism and speed also help him defensively. He has experience playing all three outfield positions and possesses above-average arm strength. Last year, he played 34 games in center field and 21 games in right field.
Defensively, Beavers expects to play mostly right field this spring, he said. While he is content with playing right field, Beavers hopes to play center field in pro ball.
“I think I can stay in center field,” Beavers said. “I want to stay out there as long as possible. There is a lot of value with playing that position, and I think I am fast enough and can cover that position pretty well.”
In 2019, the Golden Bears qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015. After no postseason play occurred in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Golden Bears contended for a tournament spot last year. But they fell just short, dropping three of their last four games to finish with a 29-26 record.
This season, Beavers will be a key piece in the Golden Bears’ lineup. He hopes they can make their first trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, since 2011.
“The goal is always to go to Omaha, but we have talked this fall about not having that big picture goal,” Beavers said. “We’d rather take it game by game, regardless of who we are playing. All of the games are super important. You look at last year, and we probably missed a regional by one or two games.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for seven years. He has interviewed 356 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.