Dallas Beeler, a former Florence RedWolf, made his major league debut Saturday June 28 for the Chicago Cubs versus the Washington Nationals. Beeler earned the start and was impressive, pitching six innings allowing only four hits and one unearned run while striking out six.
Beeler started his collegiate career by leading Seminole State College to the 2009 NJCAA World Series before earning a spot at Division I Oral Roberts. After needing Tommy John surgery, he was expected to miss the entire 2010 season but surprised everyone by making it back for the tail end of the season.
He continued impressing with the Coastal Plain League’s Florence RedWolves that summer, starting two games and allowing only a single run in 14 innings for an ERA of 0.64. Beeler also struck out 13 and gave up only four hits for a stout .089 opponents batting average, all enough to help convince the Chicago Cubs to take a chance and draft him in the 41st round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
The Chicago Cubs are in the continued stages of a rebuilding process under third-year general manager Theo Epstein. When the team found itself in need of a spot starter versus the Nationals, Epstein and others decided Beeler was their guy.
“Dallas has done a nice job,” Epstein said in an interview with ESPN Chicago. “He’s been able to repeat his delivery and keep the ball down in the strike zone. He has tremendous sink and is particularly tough on right-handed hitters. We think he’s in a good place right now.”
The sinker looked to be working as promised Saturday as Beeler matched Nationals’ all-star Gio González pitch for pitch. It was ultimately the combination of a passed ball and wild pitch that pushed the one run (unearned) across for the Nationals against Beeler, earning him the loss. Despite the loss, he impressed everyone in attendance, including the Nationals’ hitters themselves.
“He was commanding his pitches,” Nationals’ third baseman Anthony Rendon said to media following the game. “[He had a] sinker and cutter and a pretty good curveball out there.”
Adding to his memorable debut, Beeler wasted little time getting his first major league hit, belting a single up the middle the first time he came to the plate. Combine that with his day on the mound, and it was a day Beeler is not soon to forget.
“I was a lot calmer than what I thought I’d be,” Beeler told media after the game. “I walked out there, took a deep breath, threw my warm-up pitches, kind of looked around again, exhaled and I was like, `All right, same game I’ve been playing for the last 20 years.”
Despite plans to send the rookie back down following his start, Beeler is likely to be back in the majors again soon, and seems poised to be around for many years to come.
Beeler marks the fifth Coastal Plain League alum to make his major league debut in 2014, and the 69th overall. He also gives the Florence RedWolves their tenth major leaguer and their first since David Lough made his debut in 2007.
About the Coastal Plain League:
The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 18th season in 2014, the CPL features 14 teams playing in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL gives college players the chance to refine their skills with the use of wooden bats. Players are housed with local host families for the summer and past experiences have been very positive for both players and hosts. Further more, the CPL has had over 1,200 alumni drafted and 69 alums – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut thus far; while another notable alum – Russell Wilson – won Super Bowl XLVIII. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at CoastalPlain.com, and be sure to friend us on Facebook (at www.facebook.com/coastalplainleague) and follow us via Twitter (as CPLBaseball).