The Pacific Coast League is no pitcher's paradise. Toeing the rubber in places like Reno, Las Vegas, Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City, and Albuquerque, mere pop flies can find their way over the fence.
For Tyler Beede, the Giants' top pitching prospect, this has been a far different experience as compared to the pitcher-friendly confines of Double-A Richmond. He has learned to pitch in new elements, but when it comes down to it, the best advice Beede has received is to continue being the pitcher he is.
"I think just learning how to pitch in certain elevations, certain ballparks that ask for me to be a different style, but overall what I think I've tried to take away from the advice that I've gotten was just to continue to pitch the way I pitch," says Beede.
Before the season, Beede received advice from two of the Giants' mainstays in their rotation - Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. While Cain battled with Ty Blach for the No. 5 spot in the rotation and Beede was right on his heels, the veteran was the most vocal of all to help the 2014 first-round pick in spring training.
"He was always willing to give us any bit of advice to help us take our game to the next level," Beede said. "I'm really trying to implement those things where I see fit into my routine and the way I pitch on the field. It's always beneficial."
Beede pitched in six games, starting two, for the Giants in spring training. The advice turned into results. He went 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA over 13.1 innings pitched.
As June begins, Beede, who recently turned 24, is 3-3 with a 3.93 ERA over 55 innings at Triple-A with the Sacramento River Cats. On the mound, he's turning to his sinker to force roll overs and pitching much more to contact this season. Beede owns a 56 percent ground ball rate, up from 47.9 percent last year in Richmond.
"For me it's really just trying to force contact early and force ground balls," Beede said. "Overall, I'm happy with my ground ball rate."
But with his emphasis on ground balls this season, his strikeouts have taken a dip. In 10 starts, Beede has recorded 36 strikeouts. His 5.89 strikeouts per nine innings is a career low. Mentally, this is not changing Beede's way.
"As a competitor, I'd like to strikeout more guys, but I think that will come down the road once I continue to learn certain sequences and trust my pitches in the zone," Beede said.
And, Beede's approach on the mound this season is just what the Giants asked for.
"I'm focusing on continuing to work on my fastball command and really forcing contact is what the Giants would like to see from me," Beede said. "As long as I can keep getting better and feel confident with my stuff, then if the call is made for me to come up, I can be ready for that level."
There's more to Beede's decrease in strikeouts and increase in ground balls too. He's using his feel for the game and has noticed a reoccurring trait among PCL hitters - aggressiveness.
"I don't really know if I'm exactly a ground-ball pitcher, I think it's more so hitters in this league are really aggressive," Beede explains. "They're trying to get their pitch early and drive a ball. Guys are aggressive, I think that's why I'm not striking out as many guys.
"At the next level I'm not going to say they're more patient, but these guys are swinging early so my mindset is really, I'm going to throw inside to make sure I'm sinking it in and make the hitter roll over. For the most part, I've just really focused on that part of the plate and letting the hitter get themselves out.
"I don't necessarily think ground ball each at-bat. I'm thinking the bottom of the zone and if a guy rolls over, he rolls over, and so being more efficient has allowed me to go deeper in a ballgame. I'll take ground balls whenever I can get them, that's for sure."
Teams are always wary of pitcher's workloads in the minors and Beede's ability to force contact has allowed him to go six innings or longer in half of his starts this year.
While the hurler adjusts and expands his game, he waits his turn for the news everyone dreams of. He witnessed firsthand the joy of his friend and former roommate Christian Arroyo getting called up to the bigs and tweeted out the scene.
Naturally, after first experiencing the moment with Arroyo, the thought of his future promotion crept into Beede's mind.
"I couldn't be happier for him," Beede first says. "And then at the same time, I was like, man I think I'm right there with him. I think my time is coming soon too and that was kind of a moment for me to step back and say, ‘Hey, be patient, continue to trust the process, continue to know that you have what it takes to pitch at that level and have success, but continue to know that you need to continue to work on things and be ready for when that moment comes.'"
When that moment does come, Beede may have to go right back to Twitter too. Just less than two weeks ago, Beede put some fans on a social media rollercoaster, writing "Now you see me, Now you don't!" with eye emojis and the Giants tagged in a tweet.
Relax. The picture is a three-frame of him pitching. The tweet was that innocent. The replies were that hilarious.
After laughing the situation off, Beede finally says on the tweet, "I love messing with Twitter. One of these days it'll happen and maybe I'll put something out there that will have some people wondering, so we'll see."
Be ready Giants fans. Tyler Beede will make his way to San Francisco, and while he may wake you up first with a tweet, this certainly won't be fake news.