As the Arizona Fall League winds down, it's understandable for players to look back at the year and assess how far they've come. For 18th-ranked Giants prospect Tristan Beck, the season did not go the way he drew it up in March.
But if you ask him, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Beck overcame an injury and adjusted to a new system before heading to Scottsdale, where he's posted a 3.63 ERA over six starts against lineups stacked with the best hitters from across the Minors. As far as Beck is concerned, 2019 turned out OK.
"It sounds cliche to say, but the change of scenery really did do me well," he said. "It was like a breath of fresh air."
The 2018 fourth-round pick of the Braves opened the season with Class A Advanced Florida after a respectable debut campaign in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. A mere three weeks after Opening Night, however, he landed on the injured list with a strained left oblique.
Muscle strains don't usually take too long to recover from, but obliques are notoriously tricky. Beck ended up missing nearly two months. , The right-hander returned to the Fire Frogs in early July with mixed results, posting a 4.48 ERA in the next four starts.
Then the Trade Deadline came. Five minutes before the 4 p.m. ET cutoff, Beck heard his name over a clubhouse television. The Giants were dealing veteran reliever Mark Melancon to the Braves. The 23-year-old Stanford product and righty Dan Winkler headlined the return.
So began a rapid turn of events that sent Beck -- a Corona, California, native -- back West. He joined his new team, Class A Advanced San Jose, in Southern California after flying into his hometown airport (John Wayne Airport in Orange County) the night before. From one perspective, it worked out perfectly -- San Jose was set to open a series at Inland Empire's ballpark about 25 miles from Corona. A group of 80 or so friends and family members met Beck for his first game as a Giant. It was then that he realized he was right where he was meant to be.
"It's a dream that a lot of kids have, playing professional baseball in their hometown in front of their family," Beck said. "To be in front of so many friends and family in Southern California was really special.
"It was so surreal. It solidified that moment for me, that this is what it's all about."
Beck closed out the season with a 3-2 record and a 2.27 ERA over 35 2/3 innings in the California League. He struck out 37 batters while issuing 13 walks and surrendered one home run. The former Cardinal All American pitched his home games within 30 miles of where he spent his college career.
"When it all settled, I realized I was coming back to the West Coast and I was going to be able to play in Northern California again," he said. "That was such a great feeling. I went to a lot of Giants games when I was at Stanford. ... I knew I was getting to go back to the West Coast and I was really happy about that."
Beck's mother, Lucy, grew up in Los Altos on the San Francisco Peninsula and most of the family on his mom's side were Giants fans. It made the transition that much easier.
"I wasn't necessarily happy to be leaving Atlanta -- I really did enjoy my time there -- but I was happy to be coming back home," he said.
Beck fell right into place in San Francisco's system, and he credits the organization and San Jose in particular for making it a seamless transition.
"The culture of the team, that was such a great clubhouse," he said. "All of the guys were really welcoming and the coaches too. The very first day, everyone came up and introduced themselves, and I made friends really quickly. After that, it was a new setting. ... I was able to collect myself and turn in a pretty good end of the season after missing so much time with injury."
Offseason MiLB include
With the Scorpions, Beck worked with prized catcher and top Giants prospect Joey Bart until the latter was hit by a pitch and suffered a thumb fracture in early October. The duo was briefly teammates in San Jose before MLB.com's No. 19 overall prospect was promoted to Double-A Richmond.
"Joey caught the only [Cal League] outing of mine that we were together for," Beck said. "We clicked instantly. It was a very comfortable feeling to have that with a catcher who's never caught me before.
"Getting to the Fall League, I got to throw with him for quite a few outings as well. He's great. We have great chemistry. When he's behind the plate, we are always in tune, whether it be pitch calling, pickoffs, things like that."
Beck has piled up 23 punchouts over 22 1/3 frames on the elite circuit. He has no lingering concerns over his health and has settled in with his new organization. It's true -- the year unfolded far differently than how he expected it to. But looking back at it now, he's satisfied with how it is ending.