On August 14th, 2007, the Texas Rangers drafted an eighteen year old right-handed phenom straight out of a Texas High school with a perfect game under his belt and a fancy little trophy on his shelf that read "Texas High School Player of the Year," which was referring to baseball, not bowling.
He could hit 98 mph before he could grow a full beard, had a multiplicity of teams salivating over an impressive five-pitch repertoire, and ended up signing a $1.5 million dollar contract as the 17th pick in the entire 2007 Major League Baseball draft, letting hints of bright sunlight leak through a young facade only in the earliest days of becoming.
This afternoon that player elected to become a minor league free agent, leaving behind his second team after seven years of an up-and-down career that never fully developed into anything tangible beyond the guy on the other end of the injury phonecall, waiting thirty minutes south on I5. And now Blake Beavan hits the market with more losses than wins, owning a respectable 4.61 ERA and a brand new cutter that he developed to try and set him apart from younger competition biting at his heels in AAA. He will never be a Seattle Mariner again.
In a way we are all Blake Beavan. Or at least, that's what you are always supposed to say when you are reminiscing over a busted prospect. That's how baseball works, right? Failed promises, once-in-a-lifetime-chances turning on the drop of a pin, greatness relegated to the margins of history with one misplayed catch in the outfield. I've always thought that was a little silly though, to be perfectly honest.
Blake Beavan has earned a lot more money than I'll ever have at any given point in my life, and he got to pitch a bunch of baseball games in the major leagues in front of thousands of people, even on television! He will now ostensibly juggle around the minors for a while, make a spot appearance here and there riding the waiver wave on teams trying to fill the back-ends of shaky rotations in the quest to just Make It through all 182 days of the season. Maybe he'll figure something out and turn into a reliable fourth starter. Maybe he'll retire at 28. Who knows. Either way, he won't do any of it in Seattle.
Before we look forward, let's look back at one of his best moments as a Mariner, which was brought to my attention thanks to our very own Andrew on Twitter. It was September of 2011, and the Mariners were very bad. Erik Bedard and Doug Fister pitched games for the Mariners that season. Trayvon Robinson started the game in right field, Dustin Ackley was at second, and Miguel Olivo was catching balls thrown by Beavan. Three of the Mariners' four runs were on errors. Here's what he did, then, as a young prospect pitching in his first big-league season:
When you look at that clip above, I hope you realize how different the Mariners are now. Dustin Ackley is not playing second base, and has a big beard. That doesn't really have much to do with where I'm going here, but you get what I'm trying to say. But like this game, an era of Seattle Mariners history has come to a close. Beavan represents the last link to the dreaded Cliff Lee trade, following Justin Smoak by only a matter of days--and today the Seattle Mariners are a much, much different ballclub.
That team won 87 games, and had one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball. They may sign another starting pitcher in a few months, but already have two Cy Young worthy starters and a number of cost-controlled, young arms waiting in the ranks. Beavan leaving doesn't leave the Mariners in any deeper of a hole than they were with him--and he will be leaving with a few (hopefully) good memories and a whole bunch of money achieved from playing a game.
It isn't 2011 anymore, and soon, it won't be 2014 anymore. If you were to walk backward in time and tell yourself that the Mariners would let a young first-rounder walk away from one of the worst teams in baseball you may have laughed at yourself. But it's going to be 2015 soon and I bet you aren't laughing.
So goodbye, and good luck, Blake.