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A fisherman who plays baseball: Aces' Seth Beer reeling in big-league dream

Seth Beer was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Zack Grienke. (Arizona Diamondbacks)
Seth Beer was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Zack Grienke. (Arizona Diamondbacks)
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The year Seth Beer should have been a high school senior, he was the best player in college baseball.

During Beer's sophomore season of high school, he set the goal of graduating a semester early so he could join the Clemson baseball team for the 2016 season. It wasn't easy, and required Beer to double up on classes for two straight years of high school. But it paid off when Beer joined Clemson for the second semester in 2016 and played well enough to become the first freshman to win college baseball’s player of the year, the Dick Howser Award.

Now a member of the Reno Aces, Beer said that season — he hit .369 with 18 home runs, 13 doubles, 70 RBIs and a .535 on-base percentage — was a turning point in his career.

“To even get to the point where I could go to college early and play in 2016 was a big process and it was a lot of work," Beer said. “But I was obviously very happy I did it, and I was super excited to go to school and to be honored with an award like that. After the year, I remember I was sitting downstairs and getting a call from Coach Monte Lee telling me I had won this award. And I was just shocked because there's so many good players throughout NCAA and to be honored with that award and to be the first guy ever to get it as a freshman is pretty cool.”

Beer continued to thrive at Clemson, hitting .321 with a .489 on-base percentage in 188 games (188 starts) over three seasons. He slammed 56 homers, 41 doubles and drove in 177 runs. One of the top power hitters in the 2018 draft, Beer was the 28th overall pick by the Houston Astros. He credits his time at Clemson for helping him develop as a player.

“There were the highs and lows to it, and it was something I had to learn from and I had to get better from,” Beer said. “At the end of the day, I think it made me a better ballplayer and honestly a better person. And you kind of have to figure out during the highs, you're super excited, super blessed to be on the field. But you have to understand that baseball is not like that. You can't always be the best. Sometimes you get beat. And that's just part of the game. And that's why it's such an incredible and such a hard game to play. And that was definitely things that I had to deal with throughout my sophomore years, especially. And then going into my junior year, I kind of got to the point where I just wanted to go out and play."

Beer said he learned from a sophomore slump and junior rise that he plays his best when he puts his mindset on being a kid playing in the backyard. He tries not to put too much pressure on himself, and that formula has driven him to the cusp of the big leagues. A 6-foot-3, 213-pound slugger who plays first base and the outfield, Beer has hit .295/.388/.512 in the minor leagues with 41 homers in 207 games. The 24-year-old is trying to take the long view on his career and getting to the majors.

“It sounds cliché, and I’m sure you hear a lot of different ballplayers say this, but you’ve gotta trust the process,” Beer said. “And I'm sure you've heard that quite a few times. I know I have. But you got to understand that just like in any kind of work force, you have to work from the bottom up and you have to build yourself up to the point where you can be challenged with things that I'm facing right now in Triple-A that I might not have been ready for when I was in high or short season or one of those levels. And there is a building-block process when it comes to certain things."

Beer was traded from Houston's organization to Arizona's organization in 2019 in exchange for star pitcher Zack Greinke. He was one of four pieces that went back to the Diamondbacks. The other three — Corbin Martin, Josh Rojas and J.B. Bukauskas — have each reached the big leagues since the trade. The 2021 season marks the first time Beer has made it to Triple-A.

“I think the biggest thing is that all these guys here, pitcher-wise, are for the most part veterans," Beer said. "You don't really get a lot of mistakes because these guys, some might have pitched in the big leagues or in between, or guys that are that good and young that are coming up that are flying through the system and that are very talented players. You have a mixture of guys that know what to expect and know how to evaluate hitters and have a game plan against them. And then guys that are just obviously superstars that are pitching, and you have to you face a mix of that."

When Beer was traded to Arizona, his first coach in the organization was Blake Lalli, who coached him at Double-A Jackson. Lalli was elevated to the Triple-A Aces prior to this season and is the only coach Beer has played for with the Diamondbacks franchise. Beer said he's thankful for Lalli's mentorship.

“I love Lalli," Beer said. "He's he's a great manager. He's very insightful with the game of baseball. And it almost even goes further because during the 60-man pool, during the 2020 season, he was there coaching. And so I got to be around him for a full year. Between that time and the 2019 season and now, I've really got to know him. He’s a players' coach, and he's definitely a guy you want to go out there and compete for. And the biggest thing for me is he's all about winning and he wants to go out there and win every game we play. And that's what you want in a manager. And that's the guy that you can follow. He's really helped me grow when it comes to all aspects of my game."

While baseball became Beer's path to stardom, he was a star-level youth swimmer. He set national records in the 50-meter and 100-meter backstroke. But after a coach told Beer he saw his potential, Beer put down his goggles and set aside those Olympic dreams. Beer said he took the work ethic required to make an Olympic run to his baseball career.

“I think that's really what helped me as a 12- and 13-year-old kid having to get up and have my mom, bless her heart, drive me at 4:30 in the morning to go swim from 5:30-8," Beer said. "And then maybe I had a baseball practice later that day or a game. She did a lot of driving, and I'm obviously very thankful for what she did to keep both those dreams going. And it just came to the point where it was, like, 'It was just too much between baseball and swimming.' And I remember calling Paul Bird, he's a broadcaster now with the Braves, a long-time friend. And he was a coach. He said, ‘Seth, I really think you got the ability to hit someday in the big leagues. And I really think this could be something you could have a career out of.’"

Beer credits his family and long-time girlfriend, Taylor, for helping make his dreams possible.

“It takes an army when it comes to baseball,” Beer said. “My mom and dad have been with me through it all. I've got a girlfriend. We’ve been together for about 9 years, and she's been through it all, too. I would say those three have been through the ringer. My sister, too. They've all been to countless hours of baseball games and and they've been with me through high school into college and obviously into professional baseball. And they all know what goes into being a professional baseball player and all the steps it takes.

"My girlfriend has visited me in Iowa, Michigan. She's flown all over the country to see me play baseball and to see me for 2 or 3 hours out of the day. She flies out for a weekend and she knows how much effort and how much time goes in the sport. And she's been through it all and she's seen thousands and thousands of hours of baseball. And my parents, too. And between them, they've done so many things to keep it all going. And for that, I'm truly thankful because without them I don't think I could be able to do what I do.”

When Beer isn’t play baseball, he says Aces’ fans can find him on the water.

“I am a fisherman by heart that plays baseball," he joked. "I love to fish, actually gotten into fly fishing this past year, so coming out to Reno for me was pretty cool. It's a pretty big area when it comes to fly fishing. So every day you can catch me out there on the river fishing.”

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