After spending four years at Belmont University, Matt Beaty began his professional career with a Los Angeles Dodgers organization he knew little about. A Georgia native, Beaty didn’t have much of a chance to watch them unless they played his childhood favorite Atlanta Braves.
Now entering his fourth year with the Dodgers, the former 12th-round pick raved about the organization to DodgerBlue.com. “I’ve loved putting on the Dodger Blue,” Beaty said.
“The player development staff, I love working with these guys. “(John) Shoemaker, the Captain of the Minor Leagues, he’s been out here in Arizona, working out and hitting ground balls. It’s fun to be around him and soak up his love for baseball and just try absorb it a little bit.
“There’s just a lot going on for the Dodgers, especially in player development. It’s been a great experience coming up through this system.”
Part of that experience for Beaty included retooling his swing with an emphasis on elevating the ball. “When I was at Great Lakes, I had a really flat swing, so I hit a lot of line drives and ground balls,” he said.
“A lot of balls I hit hard that could’ve been in the gap or maybe over the fence if I could get it in the air. I worked on my launch angle a lot with Jay Gibbons, [Terrmel Sledge] and Craig Wallenbrock, I’ve been hitting with those guys.
“I saw my launch angle go from a six in Rancho all the way to a 14 last year in Tulsa. That brought more power. The ground-ball rollovers to second base started turning into doubles in the gaps. I really worked hard hitting last season with Gibby and Craig Wallenbrock.”
Although Beaty reaped the benefits of his work, it was tough going early on. “It was a rough start to the season. Probably at the beginning of May is when I started seeing results and once I started seeing that, the confidence came,” he recalled.
“I knew the change was going to be good, and I kept rolling with it.”
In his first experience at the Double-A level, Beaty finished the season batting .326/.378/.505 with 31 doubles, 15 home runs and 69 RBI in 116 games for Tulsa. He was among nine Drillers to make the All-Star Game, and Beaty was named Texas League Player of the Year.
From there it was off to the Arizona Fall League, where the 24-year-old was named to the AFL Fall Stars Game. Because he continued to play late into the year, Beaty and his wife, Jesica, made the decision to move to Arizona.
Aside from participating in the Fall League, he’s spent the offseason working out at Camelback Ranch. Beaty should become quite familiar with the Dodgers’ Spring Training facility as he’s among 22 non-roster invitees.
“It’s a dream come true to be invited to big league camp. I just want to learn,” Beaty said. “I want to talk to [Justin Turner] and ask him about third base stuff. Talk to [Cody Bellinger] and ask him how it was being a rookie and talk about first base with him. Just pick everybody’s brains to learn as much as I can.”
Beaty also intends to speak with Chris Taylor, as he too is attempting to make himself a viable option in the outfield. Prior to last season, Beaty had only played first base, second base and third base since being drafted by the Dodgers.
He made two starts in left field and three in right field in 2017. “The Dodgers have a pretty good guy at third base, and a pretty good guy at first base. It’s me trying to give myself the most opportunities to be able to help the big league club in the future,” Beaty said.
“I want to do whatever I can to put myself in the best situation to help out the big league club.”
Beaty’s journey is being documented by Jesica, who created and writes on Dreams and Seams about their life together and the trials and tribulations of a Minor League baseball player.
Jesica, who holds a journalism degree, created the blog when the couple made a life-changing decision.
“We got married in 2016, decided we didn’t want to do the long distance thing anymore and that she was going to travel with me,” Beaty said. “So she decided to put her dreams on hold a little bit.
“And to kind of fill that gap right now, she started doing a blog about the Minor League life and our journey through baseball. It’s from her perspective about things that she sees that the general public doesn’t necessarily know about.”