When you jump from single A all the way to AA and hold down a collective 2.12 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 111/20 K/BB along the way, you beg to be awarded postseason accolades — especially when your name is Dustin Beggs. This season, we are happy to oblige and award the 25-year-old righty with our Prospect Of The Year Award.
Beggs, born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, attended high school in northwestern Georgia. Beggs lettered in both his junior and senior seasons, the latter of which he also earned his team’s MVP award as well its Cy Young award. At season’s end, Beggs appeared in many Perfect Game showcases, not placing any worse than in the 50th percentile on fastball velocity and flashing a velo mix of more than 20 MPH before departing for junior college. There, as a Georgia Perimeter College Jaguar, Beggs compiled a 17-5 record in 150.1 IP while holding down a 1.86 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP via a 175/27 K/BB. Most of Beggs’ dominance was done in 2014, a sophomore season in which he struck out a league most 125 and managed a league leading 1.65 ERA. Following his second collegiate season, Beggs was drafted by the Cardinals in the 17th round of the 2014 draft. That same offseason, Beggs was recruited by the University Of Kentucky. Ultimately, he decided to go back to school.
“That decision was made by talking with my parents and coaches at UK,” Beggs explained. “I think the main message I got from them was that going to play at an SEC school for a year or two would help me develop not only physically, but more importantly, mentally.”
In his first season as a Wildcat, Beggs made the full-time transition to the rotation.
“The jump from JuCo to the SEC seemed pretty big when I first got there,” Beggs said. “I remember giving up 3-4 runs in my first intrasquad and thinking, “Wow, these guys are really good 1-9. It was definitely an adjustment process.”
In 14 starts that year, Beggs posted a 3.65 ERA via a 1.09 WHIP and 75/20 K/BB, numbers very respectable for a first-year D1 hurler, marking the first time but certainly not the last that Beggs would show that he is very capable of adjusting to competition level.
After posting a 9-2 record and a 3.01 ERA by way of a 0.95 WHIP and 80/16 K/BB in 98.2 IP in his senior year in 2016, Beggs was drafted for a third time. On this occasion, the Marlins took him in the 16th round and Beggs obliged, signing with Miami and earning a $10,000 signing bonus. He came to the Marlins as the fifth of seven Kentucky alums the organization has drafted from 2012 to the present. Other Wildcats turned Fish over that span include JT Riddle and Beggs’ former teammate and current 25th ranked prospect, Riley Mahan. Beggs says the fact that Michael Hill and company keep going back to the UK honeypot draft after draft is a testament to the strength and stability of a program that will only get better in the years to come.
“I think it speaks to the University of Kentucky coaching staff and how well they have done at preparing players for the next level,” Beggs said. “They take pride in, not only in winning games and competing in the SEC but also in helping players get the most out of the talent they have. With them building that beautiful new stadium, I think that trend is going to continue for a long time.”
After breaking in to pro ball at the end of 2016 with Batavia, Beggs rode the aforementioned preparedness borne in him from Kentucky to a fantastic rookie pro season in full season A in 2017. There, as a Greensboro Grasshopper, Beggs held down a 10-6 record and a 3.86 ERA. He K’d a team-high 107 in 149.1 IP, another team high, the second most in the South Atlantic League. According to Beggs, staying both healthy and effective over the course of his first full pro league season was a challenge, but, thanks to his years spent at UK learning how to create, execute and maintain an advantageous weekly regimen, a challenge he was able to stare down and conquer.
“Throwing almost 100 innings in both of my seasons at Kentucky helped a lot not only with understanding how that feels physically on your arm, but mentally understanding that you have to have a good routine and pace yourself over the course of the year,” Beggs said. “The routine helps you categorize your days off and have an idea of what to do when you get on the field each day.”
As well equipped as Kentucky made him for the rigors of life in the minor leagues, Beggs attests to the fact that pitching in Greensboro taught him many more valuable lessons such as learning how to advantageously pitch to contact. Accordingly, Beggs labels his first MiLB season as a very important foundation laying process that he will build off for the rest of his career.
“Since Greensboro’s field is so small, it really taught me the value of pitching down and inducing ground balls,” Beggs said. “[The 2017 season] was a very helpful building block just to give me confidence going forward. A lot of times confidence is the biggest key to getting people out, knowing your stuff is good enough to get people out and compete at each level. That really helped me going forward.”
This season, Beggs, a second year pro, used his newfound confidence to jump two levels all the way to AA. After starting the year back in Greensboro and holding down a 2.66 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with an 8.33 K/BB in 40.2 innings, Beggs got the promotion to A+ Jupiter. There, he returned to exclusive rotational work. In seven starts for the Hammerheads, Beggs had a tiny 2.01 ERA with a 35/6 K/BB in 44.2 IP. The highlight of his A+ career was a 7 IP, 1 ER, 10 K, 2 BB start on July 7. Six of his seven Jupiter starts were quality outings.
Between A and A+ in 2018, Beggs had a 2.32 ERA and allowed just 84 baserunners in 85.1 IP (0.98 WHIP) while compiling an 88/12 K/BB. Those accolades earned Beggs his second promotion of the season, this time to AA Jacksonville, on August 15.
Making the difficult leap from the lower to upper minors, all four of Beggs’ starts with the Shrimp were of the quality variety. During those 25 innings, he limited opponents to a .193 BA and just four earned runs. His impeccable control numbers persisted as he struck out 23 and walked just eight. Beggs, who trades any sort of fiery velocity for hitting spots, missing barrels, says the key to his continued success as he’s traveled through the minors, has been maintaining a great working knowledge of himself and his abilities, staying true to that persona and avoiding the urge to become something he is not.
“I think the key has been consistency and keeping an even temperament on the mound. As the levels pass and the opponents and teammates change, you have to keep attacking hitters and throwing strikes,” Beggs said. “I understand that I’m not going to blow it by people so I use offspeed and location to my advantage.”
Following a head-turning 2018 campaign, the 25-year-old Beggs will head into 2019, a campaign in which, with continued success at the AA level, could include his Major League debut. However, the 25-year-old is determined not to let anything — not even the pending realization of his childhood dream — alter his steadfast concentration.
“It’s very exciting to think about, but I am a very in-the-moment focused person,” Beggs said. “I have to keep working this offseason to put myself in a good position to compete this spring. I’m just going to keep staying the course and focus on how I can better myself.”
A 6’3” 180 pound specimen, Dustin August Beggs literally DAB-bed on the competition no matter where he pitched in 2018 via his best tool: impeccable control. While his low-90s heat won’t light up radar guns or the eyes of scouts, the placement of his huge 12-6 curve that clocks in at 72-74 MPH, his sweeping 9-6 slider that sits 75-78 MPH and his 82-84 MPH changeup that shows late arm-side run to the black provide Beggs with the ability to use any pitch in any count. He masks each of his pitches by repeating his windup, arm speed and follow-through. A guy who is extremely averse to a free pass and who limits pitches per AB and is more than capable of erasing what few baserunners he does allow via a lightning quick pickoff move, Beggs has the ceiling of a 2-3 starter and the floor of a back end swing man, capable of eating many innings.
A guy who earned the reputation of a more-than-reliable starter in college, Beggs has begun to pave a path to do the same as a Major Leaguer. With similar success in both spring training and early in the minor league season with the Jumbo Shrimp, Beggs should be among the first handful of Marlins hurlers to earn a major league promotion in 2019.