A longer look at Beck (Orioles sign Costes)

Selecting pitcher Jared Beck in the 13th round on the final day of the MLB Draft wasn’t a reach for the Orioles. And that’s just one of the many references to his height that will accompany his journey through the minors if he signs a professional contract.

Beck must be used to it. There’s no hiding at 7 feet tall.

The Orioles chose 12 pitchers. Only one is left-handed. And only one can clean out the gutters without a ladder.

The Saint Leo University baseball website includes a note on Beck transferring from Illinois State and also spending time at Heartland Community College and Eastern Iowa Community College. A long road traveled to the Division II University near Tampa.

Yes, long. Can’t escape it.

Other numbers also warrant your attention, like the 105 strikeouts he amassed this year in 68 1/3 innings. That’s a whopping 13.8 per nine innings. Opponents batted .217 against him in 13 starts.

Beck lowered his ERA from 7.29 in nine games as a junior to 3.95, and his WHIP from 1.920 to 1.259. His walks per nine innings dropped from 7.0 to 4.1.

"Jared's a really interesting case," said Orioles director of draft operations Brad Ciolek. "He was 88-91 and his stuff really ticked up a little bit later on and actually reached up to 95. We think we can help his breaking ball, as well, and he's also got a changeup that he's been working on.

“Obviously, he's a little bit of a bigger guy and that might take a little bit more in terms of delivery, refining his mechanics, but I have the utmost faith in our player development staff, our pitching coaches, that they will be able to get the most out of his ability."

And faith in being able to find uniform pants that fit.

Yes, Beck played basketball at Davenport North High School, but Perfect Game rated him as the fourth-best left-handed pitcher in his 2018 class out of Iowa and placed him among the top 400 recruits in the nation.

Between his two seasons at Saint Leo, he made 13 relief appearances for the Savannah Bananas in the Coastal Plain League - a wood-bat collegiate summer baseball league - and allowed only three earned runs with 38 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings.

If Beck makes it to the majors, he’d surpass 6-foot-11 pitchers Sean Hjelle and Jon Rauch as the tallest player in history.

Rauch has an Orioles connection without actually pitching for them. He signed with the Orioles on June 1, 2013 and opted out of his contract a month later after making 10 relief appearances with Triple-A Norfolk and allowing three runs in 9 1/3 innings.

An Associated Press article noted that there have been at least two minor league players taller than Beck at 7-feet-1: Dutch pitcher Loek van Mil, who spent 10 seasons in affiliated ball, mostly with the Twins, and Ryan Doherty, who spent parts of three seasons in the Diamondbacks system before switching to professional beach volleyball.

Van Mil, who left affiliated ball after 2013 with the Reds, was listed at 260 pounds. Doherty, who attended Notre Dame, was listed at 255. Beck is 225.

Mark Hendrickson was an NBA forward who pitched for the Orioles from 2009-11, twice signed minor league deals and didn’t make it back to the majors. He was a mere 6-feet-9. So was reliever Kam Mickolio, a reliever acquired from the Mariners with Adam Jones in the Erik Bedard trade.

Logan Ondrusek, a 6-foot-8 reliever, concluded his major league career by making seven relief appearances in 2016. The Orioles re-signed him to a major league deal over the winter and released him in March 2017 after he sustained an elbow injury.

Beck lists Hall of Famer Randy Johnson as one of his favorite players. The Big Unit is two inches shorter than Beck.

Tyler Wells is the tallest Oriole on the active roster at 6-feet-8. Bryan Baker is 6-feet-6. Beck would tower over them, but he’s a long way from the majors.

A contract must be agreed upon by Aug. 1. He might start in the Florida Complex League, and as a collegiate pitcher could get a few innings with Single-A Delmarva. The Orioles will work on his mechanics, make certain that he’s able to repeat his delivery and not let the long limbs get in his way.

A tall tale worth telling.

The Orioles hope the talk will center more on stats than stature.

* The Orioles signed University of Maryland first baseman Maxwell Costes as an undrafted free agent.

Costes is a Baltimore native who played at Gilman School. He hit .298/.458/.560 with 37 doubles, 40 home runs and 145 RBIs in four seasons with the Terps.

As a senior, Costes was named Third-Team All-Big 10 after batting .297/.441/.575 with 15 doubles, 16 home runs and 52 RBIs in 291 plate appearances. He walked 39 times and struck out 42.

As an advanced college bat, Costes could skip the Florida Complex League and report to Single-A Delmarva.


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