Giving up the second half of his senior year in high school, Seth Beer enrolled at Clemson in January.
Doing so meant missing the rigors and preparations of fall baseball like the rest of the Tigers.
It didn’t take long, though, before the youngster felt like he belonged.
After getting his first base knock in an intersquad scrimmage and hitting a couple home runs late in preseason practices, he gained the respect of his teammates.
Beer called it a “great feeling” to win acceptance as one of the guys by players like veteran catcher Chris Okey, who Beer “looked up to” before coming to Clemson.
So when the freshman right-field sensation, rated as the No. 2 player nationally in his prep class by Perfect Game, went into his debut series last weekend against Maine in the starting lineup, he listened to one of the team’s leaders on how to handle the pressure.
“I felt some before the Friday night game,” Beer said. “Okey came up to me and told me it’s the same game we’ve played almost our whole lives … (and) just to keep playing each at-bat, each time you’re in the field, the same way, because the game doesn’t change.”
After getting his first career hit Saturday, a two-run single, he calmed down. By the end of the weekend, Beerdid what he always does: produce at the plate.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Suwanee, Ga., native recorded a team-high six RBIs and hit a grand slam, his first homer as a Tiger, in Sunday’s 19-2 series-clinching win over the Black Bears.
“There’s just not that many guys that are that locked in,” Clemson baseball coach Monte Lee said. “Seth’s one of those guys that not only is he a powerful hitter, but he’s also a guy that knows which pitches he handles in the strike zone. He laid off some pitches and he doesn’t try to do too much, even with two strikes.
“The home run he hit was a two-strike pitch that he just stayed on, and because he’s so strong, he just stayed through the ball and hit it out of the ballpark. He’s going to be a special, special player for us.”
Beer, who will look to build off his early performance when the Tigers (2-1) begin a three-game series at home against James Madison (2-2) 4 p.m. Friday, produced just three hits last weekend and went 0-for-4 at the plate in his first career game on Feb. 19. But Lee kept saying Beer was close to connecting on pitches and making a big impact, which he did on the bases-loaded bomb to right-center field that broke the game open in the series finale’s seven-run fifth inning.
Not doing too much has been Beer’s approach since he stepped on campus last month. Beer, 19, said his decision to enroll early was a “family thing.” And he didn’t want to go through the draft this summer.
“I just wanted to get here as fast as I could, and put on the purple and orange, and just go out there and play,” Beer said.