Wild Things Beatty a traveling man

May 3, 2013
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
C.J. Beatty snags a line drive during spring training for the Washington Wild Things. Order a Print
Image description
Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
Wild Things second baseman C.J. Beatty has racked up some frequent flier miles in his baseball career. Order a Print

The résumé of C.J. Beatty reads like something that should be published by Rand McNally. There are summer stops in Johnson City, Tenn., Lincoln, Neb., Davenport, Iowa, Palm Beach, Fla., and San Angelo, Edinburg and Fort Worth in Texas.

Most recently, there was a six-month winter stop in Australia.

For five years, Beatty has been keeping the dream alive. Five years of not giving up on baseball, even when some in the game gave up on him. Such is the life of a hitter.

These days, Beatty’s travels have led him to Washington, where he is trying to land a spot on the Wild Things’ opening day roster. This will be Beatty’s first experience in the Frontier League, which is one reason why he’s here.

“I’ve heard this is a very competitive league and that the Frontier League is heavily scouted. There is a lot of young talent here,” Beatty said.

No doubt he heard much about the Frontier League from the person who made the Wild Things aware of Beatty’s availability. That would be pitcher Chris Smith, who had a sparkling season (9-6, 2.92 ERA) last year with Washington and is now in the New York Yankees’ farm system.

Smith and Beatty, a 24-year-old utility player, were teammates during this past winter with the Brisbane Bandits of the Australian Baseball League.

“The first road trip we played together, we played in Adelaide, in south Australia. The closer came in the eighth inning, and I was able to hit what they say was one of the longest home runs in that stadium. Chris immediately got on the phone and called Washington. He said, ‘You’ve got to do whatever it takes to get him to come to the Wild Things. … It came down to three teams: Lake Erie, Traverse City and the Wild Things.”

The deciding factor was location. Beatty is from Winston-Salem, N.C., and most of his professional baseball pit stops have been far away from home.

“This is only a five-and-a-half-hour drive from North Carolina. I’m happy to have family and friends make that commute on weekends to see me play,” Beatty said.

Beatty comes to Washington with a strong reputation as a hitter. In two seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals’ system and two more on the independent circuit, Beatty has a career batting average of .284. As an independent league player, Beatty has 79 extra-base hits and 30 stolen bases.

Beatty’s bat should be a welcomed addition to the Wild Things, who were last in the Frontier League in batting average last year, and last in runs scored in 2010 and 2011.

Drafted by St. Louis in the 26th round in 2009 out of North Carolina A&T, Beatty was an outfielder in the Cardinals’ system. After his release, he switched to the infield. He’s played three infield positions in independent leagues.

“When I was released, I was given some great advice by (the Cardinals’) staff. They told me to come back as a different ballplayer,” Beatty said. “I took that advice to heart and wanted to come back at a position that makes sense for my style. My speed, I’m not a burner for a center fielder. I don’t have the power to play the corner outfield positions. So what position would be best for me to get back to affiliated ball and be valuable to a team? With my size and speed, I said I could bring some power to the second base position.”

Beatty will have some competition at second base, where Shain Stoner returns after leading the Wild Things with 10 home runs and 58 RBI last year. Center fielder Darian Sandford, who set the Frontier League record with 71 stolen bases last year, was switched to second base this spring while in minor-league camp with the Chicago White Sox. He took some ground balls at second Thursday during the opening day of Wild Things camp.

Chris Dugan has been covering local sports for more than 30 years and has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1986. He was named sports editor in 2006. Before joining the O-R, he was sports editor at the Democrat-Messenger in Waynesburg. He is a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. If you have an idea for a story, send him an email at dugan@observer-reporter.com.

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