Even though he couldn't be farther away geographically from the parent club, Giants top pitching prospect Tyler Beede has found great comfort in the Eastern League.
While he desires nothing more than to be with the big league club, he is cherishing the opportunity to be able to pitch back in front of friendly crowds while also gaining great confidence in his abilities.
A native of Auburn, Massachusetts, Beede has done well to learn from his mistakes since arriving in Richmond last year, and with family and friends around whenever the Flying Squirrels make their New England run, he's gotten an added push of morale along the way.
"I love being close to home, I love being on the East Coast, but I know they won't mind making the trip to San Francisco sometime soon," said the Giants' No. 2 prospect of his family going to the West Coast to watch him play. "It's nice to be here, because I haven't pitched in front of family and friends since high school. Any chance they get to come see me pitch is very special.… I love the Eastern League."
Beede also loves the fact that being in Double-A means that the call from the big club could come at any time.
"Once you get to Double-A, Triple-A, you're sort of taken from the same pool," he said. "You can get called up from either position.… I'm working toward that and hopefully that call comes soon, but if not, I'll be happy developing down here."
In making the jump to Double-A last June, Beede found the opposition to be much more advanced than what he had been used to, and the numbers reflected some struggles at this level. Learning from that experience, he felt confident and ready to go once April rolled around, backed by a strong dose of command.
However, the 6-foot-3 right-hander quickly found that it wasn't going to be command alone that moved him along, and he has since found the formula that is now yielding stellar results with each start.
"I just had to realize that it was because I wasn't throwing quality strikes in the zone, instead of just filling up the zone," said Beede, who has added 25-30 pounds to his frame -- which has helped his four-seam fastball get back to a 94-95 mph average. "It's what I'm learning as I'm going. The adjustment I've made over the last couple of months is just to pitch down in the zone a little bit more. I think I've gotten weaker contact, more ground balls and even if I'm giving up hits, they're usually on the ground."
In four April starts he went 1-1 with a 4.71 ERA, while opponents hit .337 against him. With the adjustments, Beede has since gone 3-2 with a 2.25 ERA while holding opponents to a .253 average.
Feeling right at home on the hill and in the EL, the charismatic hurler is gaining a great deal of poise and confidence that has him eager to reach his ultimate goal sooner rather than later.
"I'm at the point now where I feel confident and ready that if I were to get the call to move up a level or to pitch in the big leagues that I could compete there," Beede said.
Still rolling: With an eighth-inning double versus Reading on Sunday, Austin Meadows extended his hitting streak to 21 games, tying Altoona's club record set by Kevin Sefcik in 2002. It's the longest such streak in the league this year, and the Pirates' No. 2 prospect collected nine doubles, six triples and five home runs during the historic stretch.
Cultivating composure: Erie's Jeff McVaney has continued to show vast improvement in his plate discipline this season. The SeaWolves outfielder has walked 35 times, third-most in the league, in 279 plate appearances and has struck out 23 times. In contrast, the best year he had in that department before this was in 2014, when he struck out 87 times and walked 45. McVaney is also batting .299 with 27 extra-base hits on the year.
Efficient at pilfering: Though it is one off the league lead for steals as a team, Harrisburg is far and away the most successful at swiping the extra base. The Senators, who have stolen 76 bases on the year, have a 79 percent success rate, having seen only 22 would-be base stealers cut down on the paths. Much of the credit goes to Rafael Bautista, who is 31-for-37 and leads the league in steals, and Wilmer Difo, who has stolen 22 of the 25 bases he has attempted to take. The duo accounts for 70 percent of the Senators' successful heists.
Craig Forde is a contributor to MiLB.com.