BRISTOL - Heâ€™s not an average player. That much has become clear about Christian Beal over the past few months, and if he stretches his hot play from spring into the summer, fans at Muzzy Field will soon see if Beal is the real deal or not.
Beal signed with the Bristol Blues this spring and will bringing a strong reputation to their outfield. After a strong 2019 campaign at Bates College, the sophomore earned first-team all-league honors in the New England Small College Athletic Conference after finishing fourth in the league in batting average (.370), fifth in total bases (70), ninth in stolen bases (15 on 17 attempts) and tied for 10th in runs scored (32).
Beal also drove in 17 runs on 54 total hits in 35 games played with nine doubles, two triples, a home run and 11 walks to 19 strikeouts. But those stats may not be the most impressive bullet points of his rĂ©sumĂ©.
â€śHis defense is phenomenal,â€ť said Blues general manager Brian Rooney.
The 5-foot-9, 165-pound native of Flossmoor, Ill., has an above-average arm and has the speed and athleticism to track balls to deep center at Muzzy Field and in the right and left field corners. He made several highlight-reel catches in center for Bates, where he recorded four assists and committed no errors.
â€śI saw a highlight of his on social media where he made this Superman-like catch,â€ť Blues manager Ronnie Palmer said. â€śObviously, the young man is super athletic and talented. But heâ€™s an intelligent ball player as well, so you certainly like to put those kids in the mix.â€ť
Beal also possesses tremendous speed and will certainly be asked to utilize it for a Blues team that will be looking to steal plenty of bases in 2019.
â€śChristianâ€™s an awesome all-around player,â€ť Rooney said. â€śHeâ€™s got all the tools. He can run. He can hit. Defensively, heâ€™s very strong. Christian is just an all-around athlete. Like I said, heâ€™s got all the tools. Heâ€™s a great player.â€ť
Beal could wind up being looked at by MLB teams and find himself on a minor league roster. For now, he will be teaming up with a loaded Blues outfield that features Austin White from Rhode Island and Parker Upton from Creighton as part of an eight-man depth chart that is one of the clubâ€™s strengths.
â€śOur whole outfield, if you look at our roster, is strong,â€ť Rooney said. â€śI have a lot of speed. My outfield, I think, is the best. Iâ€™m not taking away from our infield, but I think our outfield is something to behold after you see them play. Iâ€™ve seen a lot of these kids. Theyâ€™re very talented.â€ť
Brandon Miller from St. Johnâ€™s, Griffin Schneider from Wagner, John Orzechowski from Stonehill, J.T. Mounce of Oklahoma State and Nolan Cloutier from Southern Connecticut will all be in the mix in the outfield for a Blues team looking to improve on last seasonâ€™s 29-23 campaign.
â€śItâ€™s gonna be hard, and thatâ€™s Ronnieâ€™s job and my job to get some of these players some time,â€ť Rooney said. â€śBut if you look at all our outfielders and what we have, itâ€™s gonna be hard to sit people down.
â€śWeâ€™re putting together a pretty good team for this season. That being said, theyâ€™ve gotta make the plays. Theyâ€™ve gotta play the game. But I think our whole team is tremendous.â€ť