It’s Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in the middle of January and Clemson players have just finished up workouts for the day.
It’s cold – in the 30s – and players are rushing to find warmth. Some are heading home. Others are going to meet up for food.
And then there’s Seth Beer.
“We see Seth walking out of the dugout with his practice attire on, heading to the cages,” Clemson senior Chris Williams said. “I guess he stayed here for a couple more hours. It’s really amazing to watch that, someone who’s so dedicated to this game and loves this game so much.”
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That day was not a rare occurrence this offseason. In fact it was the norm.
Beer, a two-time All-American and one of the nation’s best hitters, is often at Clemson’s baseball facility by himself, long after everyone else has gone home.
He gets there early, stays late and works tirelessly to perfect his left-handed swing that has him projected by some to be a first-round draft pick in the 2018 MLB draft.
"The lights are on at night and you know who’s down there. You don’t even have to ask. I’ve went down there many times wondering why the lights are still on in the cage, and it’s because Seth went down there to hit by himself after weights, after practice. It’s just amazing how much this kid puts into his game, how much he invests into his game," Tigers coach Monte Lee said. "This kid is on a mission... I don’t know if anybody works harder than Seth does."
Beer has always been a hard worker, but this offseason, the final one before he is eligible for the MLB draft, he took his work ethic to another level.
The Georgia native is arguably the best hitter in college baseball, batting .333 with 30 doubles, 34 homers and 123 RBIs in 125 career games, but he wants to prove during his junior season that he is more than just a hitter.
“This year I’ve really made it be a big thing for me to go out there and take groundballs every day, run the bases the right way, do the little things right,” Beer said. “Then every day I can get off the field and say, ‘You know what? I got better today. Not just as a hitter, but as a baseball player as a whole.’ ”
Beer estimates that he stayed at the baseball facility past midnight several times between Clemson’s season ending last June and the start of practice in late January.
“I’ve been here toward 1, 2 o’clock in the morning easily. That’s happened quite a few times,” Beer said.
The 6-foot-3, 195 pounder spent some time hitting off the pitching machine, but most of his time was spent taking groundballs, trying to improve as a first baseman.
Beer played predominantly in the outfield and as a designated hitter the first two years of his Tigers career but would like to prove to scouts that he is capable of playing first base as well.
“I was just trying to religiously break that into my brain on how it works and hops and understand that,” Beer said of taking groundballs. “That’s the kind of stuff I’m staying late for.”
Beer’s motivation is simple. Yes, he wants Clemson to make a run to the College World Series in 2018. And yes he wants to be a high draft pick to set himself up financially, but there is also another reason why he has been working so hard.
“It’s just my family. I think about all the sacrifices, all the effort they’ve put forth. It kind of just makes me eager and itch to just get a little bit better,” Beer said. “For me the biggest thing that drives me is my family to one day hopefully put them in position to where they don’t have to struggle or work anymore.”
Beer participated in several sports growing up, from football to swimming to baseball, and his parents, Mike and Robin, always ensured that he was where he needed to be.
“They’ve always sacrificed tremendously for my dream to have a shot. It’s such a far-fetched dream to one day play in the big leagues if you think about it from a logistics standpoint, but my parents never shied away from it,” Beer said. “For me that’s just fuel to succeed, not only for myself but for my family so we can all just kind of sit back and maybe one day be satisfied. That’s one of my biggest goals.”
Robin began home-schooling Seth when he was in kindergarten and did so until he was in eighth grade. His parents never discouraged Seth from chasing his dream and did everything they could to make it possible.
The closer Seth gets to making his dream a reality, the hungrier he gets and the harder he works.
“When it’s hot sometimes or it’s freezing cold right now during the winter and I don’t want to go out there, that’s the first thing I think about is they sacrificed for me so I can sacrifice a little bit,” Seth said. “Kids want to be all kinds of different things. But they always pursued what I wanted to do and what I wanted to make a career out of, even as an 11 and 12 year old. That’s something that I’ll always cherish for the rest of my life.”