Reynolds, Beaty, and at last the rise of Yaz

Former Brentwood High School and Vanderbilt player Bryan Reynolds has hit five home runs in his rookie season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. (photo by Mike Morrow)

Just a couple of hours before his college team Vanderbilt won the Southeastern Conference tournament championship Sunday, former Commodore outfielder Bryan Reynolds launched his fifth major league home run for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It is looking like Reynolds will be more than just a temporary call-up. It’s conceivable that when outfielder Corey Dickerson returns from a shoulder injury that Reynolds’ playing time will be diminished, but through 94 at-bats as a rookie, Reynolds is batting .319 and getting compliments from management and teammates alike.

And he is building a reputation as a cool customer.

When Reynolds hit safely in his first nine games with the big-league club, manager Clint Hurdle, according to mlb.com, said, “There’s a lot to like. He’s come in here with a very slow heartbeat and performed extremely well and done some damage with the bat.”

Reynolds played at Brentwood High School and was a teammate there with Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Robbie Ray. After three years at Vanderbilt, Reynolds was chosen in the second round of the draft by the San Francisco Giants. He was dealt to the Pirates in the trade that sent Andrew McCutcheon from Pittsburgh to San Francisco.

MLB Pipeline’s report on Reynolds says, “Wherever he’s gone he’s hit.” And it concludes, “His floor is as a fourth outfielder, but if the power comes and/or he shows he can stay in center long-term, his ceiling is that of a solid big league regular.”

He is playing like a big league regular now.

Curiously, Baseball America’s report on Reynolds said he “doesn’t have a lot of lift in his swing and frequently puts the ball on the ground.” On Sunday, Reynolds’ home run at PNC Park off the Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda was a towering fly into the right field stands that according to Statcast had a 40-degree launch angle, tying the greatest launch angle of the season for a Pirate with Jung Ho Kang.

Mike Petriello, writing for mlb.com, last week listed Reynolds as one of the surprise stars to emerge in recent weeks, saying, “He’s striking out less than the major league average (he’s at 21 percent, the MLB average is 23 percent), and he’s doing it while hitting the ball really, really hard. There are 305 hitters with 50 batted balls, and Reynolds’ hard-hit rate is… tied for fourth.”

That tie is with Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich. …

… For all the impact Vanderbilt continues to have in pro baseball, another Nashville school, Belmont University, is getting attention with corner infielder Matt Beaty. The former Bruin played at Dresden High School.

Beaty is batting .240 in 10 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is his second call-up for the 26-year-old by the reigning National League champs. He was a 12th round pick by the Dodgers in 2015.

Beaty is the first major leaguer from Belmont since pitcher Dwight Bernard debuted in 1978 with the New York Mets.

The MLB.com scouting report on Beaty says he has an average arm, but it notes his versatility in the field, which is a plus on a Dodgers club that has become well known for plugging many different players into different positions.

Mlb.com reports, “Beaty has split most of his career between first base and third base. He’s a decent defender at either corner and also has made brief appearances at second base, left field and right field as a pro. He also did some catching as an amateur and his versatility will come in handy as he tries to crack a Los Angeles roster with an overload of corner-infield options.”

Beaty drove in four runs for the Dodgers in a 10-7 victory against Pittsburgh on Sunday, the same day Reynolds hit his fifth homer. Beaty thus became the first rookie for the Dodgers to drive in four run in a game since Cody Bellinger did it in 2017.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts put Beaty fifth in the batting order Sunday. According to mlb.com, Roberts said, “I like him in the batter’s box. I like him in the field.” …

… A lot of people have pulled for former Vanderbilt player Mike Yastrzemski to make it to the major leagues, and it finally happened last week with the Giants. He was called up after more than six years in the minors, starting with the Orioles organization.

He made his second start on Sunday, after going 0-for-3 on Saturday, and got his first hit on a blooper to left field, then was thrown out on the play trying to get back to first base.

Yastrzemski, the grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, is 28. He was drafted by the Orioles in 2013.

Mike Yastrzemski has 2,600 at-bats in the minor leagues, batting .263.

Categories: Home-grown

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