Waiting for the call

Not far down I-95, a former Cal star is playing for the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate.

By Amarna Milne

In a California living room buzzing with anticipation, Dylan Beavers sat on a beige couch flanked by his parents, eyes fixed on the MLB draft broadcast. Family and friends filled the room, their whispers punctuated by nervous laughter.

For Beavers, this moment was the culmination of years of dedication and determination. From backyard swings to stadium lights, he had honed his craft with a focused dream of hearing his name called in the MLB draft. 

The phone rang. 

“Your name is coming up,” said the production assistant on the other end. “Adjust your camera up a little — and change the lighting behind you.” 

Beavers fumbled around with his laptop screen, tilting it upward and scrambling to close the blinds behind him. He was already frustrated by how far down in the draft he had dropped, and being his own cameraman was only adding to his nervousness. He couldn’t take his eyes off the television screen in front of him.   

“With the 33rd pick of the 2022 MLB draft…” Orioles Hall of Famer Rick Dempsy began to read from the podium, “the Baltimore Orioles select Dylan Beavers, an outfielder from UC Berkeley.” 

A quick rise to the Orioles’ system

Beavers’ baseball journey has been nothing short of a whirlwind. Unlike some others, Beavers’ rise through the system has been quick. As of June 17, Beavers was hitting .260 with 9 home runs and 27 RBI for the Bowie Baysox, the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate.

His dream of becoming a professional baseball player took root at the young age of five, with no family legacy in the sport to pave his way. 

Instead, he relied solely on his hard work and natural talent to achieve his goal. 

At five years old, Beavers walked out of his family home in Paso Robles, California, to see his neighbor throwing a baseball in their shared driveway. He ran back inside to ask his dad to sign him up for the closest little league immediately. 

Scott Beavers had never played baseball before. He had been a wrestler and knew nothing about the game. 

Despite his lack of experience, Scott took up the role of Little League coach for the first five years of his son’s career. He brought a fun-loving and enthusiastic energy to the team. The kids loved having him as their coach and he brought a unique perspective to the baseball field from his wrestling days, instilling in Dylan a sense of discipline and resilience. 

“A big part of my success in baseball is that work ethic that I’ve learned from my dad,” Beavers said. “He’d do anything for me.” 

Now 22, Beavers has worked with many coaches, although none have had the same impact as his father. He credits his college hitting coach, Noah Jackson, as being one of his biggest role models. Not only did Jackson have a strong bond with the team, but he also possessed a deep understanding of hitting techniques. 

Jackson was promoted to associate head coach at Berkeley in 2022, working alongside head coach Mike Neu. Despite being repeatedly told he would pitch in college, Neu approached Beavers’ potential role with an open mind upon his arrival at Berkeley. 

“We thought he was going to do both,” Neu told the Cal Sports Quarterly. “We obviously knew he was super athletic and had a really good arm, and was also a really good hitter in high school. But at the time if you asked what I thought he’d end up being, I honestly would have said we’ll give him a chance to do both, but I think he has a chance to be really good on the mound.”

It didn’t take long for Neu and Jackson to determine that Beavers’ talent as a hitter was undeniable. His frame, tall and lanky, and a fastball in the low 90s seemed to align with their original assumption. However, deep down, Beavers felt a different pull—one toward the exhilaration of hitting, the crack of the bat against the ball, and the thrill of rounding the bases.

After the draft, Beavers spent only three games playing in the Complex League in Florida before being moved up to a Low-A team, the Delmarva Shorebirds. The transition can often be a big change for players coming from college, where every game carries significant weight and the focus is on winning. 

In the minor leagues, the emphasis shifts toward player development rather than immediate victories. Players step back from the high-stakes competition of college, allowing them to refine their skills in a more controlled environment. 

“You go from college where every game matters and everyone wants you to win every single time,” Beavers said. “I felt like I stepped back, the competition really wasn’t as good until I got to Double-A.”

It was after 9 p.m. on a Tuesday. Beavers had just played a 7 p.m. game for the Delmarva Shorebirds, the Single-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, and was driving back to his apartment when his hitting coach, Sherman Johnson, called. 

“Hey, you’re going to Double-A,” Johnson said. “Your first game is tomorrow morning.” 

The Bay Sox’s home turf is an hour’s drive away from the Delmarva Shorebirds. Beavers had 12 hours to pack up his locker, drive home, pack up his apartment, go to sleep, recover from his Tuesday game, and head out on the road for a morning game in Bowie. 

“It was a quick turnaround and I wasn’t even expecting to play,” Beavers said. “Then I got to the field and I was leading off. I was hitting first.” 

Beavers was never usually the designated hitter, but for his first double A game he had to adapt quickly to the new position. As he sat in the dugout and felt his muscles getting colder, doubt started to creep in. 

“I remember just thinking ‘Don’t strike out’ which is probably the worst mentality you can have as a hitter,” Beavers said. 

He doubled in his first at bat, and in that moment Beavers realized he was more than ready for the challenge ahead.

As the preseason dawned, the minor leagues hosted several major league players, who were recovering from injuries and beginning their journeys back to full strength. For Beavers’ this became a golden opportunity. Every pitch, every swing, every play became a lesson, a chance to measure himself against the best.

Beavers glanced over to centerfield and caught the eye of Cedric Mullins, who nodded back at him. 

“I thought to myself, ‘Wow, I’m literally playing defense with one of the best outfielders in all of baseball. OK, we’re not too far off now,” Beavers said. 

During spring training, Mullins, a veteran Major Leaguer, had spent two weeks rehabbing with the Baysox. On Mullins’ first day at the facility, Beavers made a point to introduce himself. 

“He’s quiet, but if you approach him and ask him questions he’s more than willing to be as helpful of a resource as he can,” Beavers said. “That’s what Double-A is all about, improving as a player and learning from the older guys.” 

Beavers arrived early to every practice and game, learning anything he could from Mullins in the batting cages and during defensive reps. 

“The best advice he gave me was to take more time off during the off-season,” Beavers said. “He does a full two months of no baseball, no games, no practices, nothing.” 

Very superstitious

Despite being surrounded by some of the top names in baseball, Beavers’ has stayed grounded in some of his ways, most notably his pregame superstitions. 

During his college days, Beavers used a moped to get around campus. On a normal school day it was a useful vehicle for getting from A to B, but on gameday it transformed into a meticulous pregame routine. He would use his moped to get from his on-campus house to the field, each turn and bump in the road had been intricately planned out. Some bumps were to be deliberately dodged, others deliberately hit. 

This routine, carefully planned and executed, became a superstitious practice for him. It was his way of mentally preparing for the game, ensuring that once he reached the clubhouse, he was fully primed and ready to perform at his best.

“I had the moped to get around in college, I’m sure I could look like a clown sometimes,” Beavers said. “I would take the exact same route and emulate exactly what I did before if I had a good day. Once I got to the clubhouse I knew I was good to go.”

Beavers and his father, Scott, share a bond over superstitions.

“He switches his hat once he turns on my game on the TV,” said Beavers. “He’ll put on his lucky hat.”  

Scott’s lucky hat, adorned with the Delmarva Shorebirds logo from Beavers’ Low-A days, holds sentimental value. Despite Beavers not being particularly fond of wearing hats, it’s a tradition that he and his father enjoy together.

“He sends me pictures of it and he’s like, ‘Oh dude, the lucky hat’s working. You’re playing well,” said Beavers. 

When Beavers returns to his hometown of Paso Robles and sinks into the comforting embrace of his familiar beige couch, he can’t help but reflect on the journey that brought him here. He knows every sacrifice he made for a shot at the major leagues was worth it, a dream he will continue to pursue until he reaches the top when he can don an Orioles uniform at Camden Yards. 

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