Beau Amaral Brings Heads-Up Play to Pensacola
From the very beginning, baseball has played an integral role in the life of Beau Amaral.
Born to Rich Amaral, a second-round selection in 1983 who spent a decade in the major leagues, the comparisons between father and son are easy to make. Both men were college standouts who used their versatility and speed to jump to the minors. The 24-year-old outfielder knows the effort that a major league player must put forth day by day, but it’s a story his father knew better. Rich spent four years at Double-A and played over eight hundred minor league games before getting his chance in Seattle. Beau hopes to change the story this time around.
The path runs through Los Angeles for the second-generation Bruin. Amaral was part of two College World Series squads at UCLA and headlined the history books in postseason games (24), hits (33), and at-bats (99) when the Reds drafted him in 2012. In fact, he had a propensity for standing out on a crowded stage, leading at least one offensive category every season. Amaral recorded a team-best .354 batting average in his freshman year, including a .396 mark in the postseason and .375 clip in the College World Series. He followed up with All Pac-10 Team honors in 2011, leading the Bruins with 16 doubles and 37 runs. In his final college campaign, the outfielder finally came into his own. The everyday center fielder and leadoff hitter tallied a personal-best 84 hits and team-leading 63 runs while flashing the leather as a member of the 2012 Division I Rawlings Gold Glove team.
His busy 2012 campaign rumbled through Montana as Amaral joined the rookie affiliate in Billings. Quickly finding a niche in center field, he led the Mustangs with 55 runs and 20 stolen bases; the latter figure was enough to garner a share of fourth-most in the Pioneer League. A 15-game hitting streak from August 20 to September 5 gave his numbers a boost; it is thus far the longest hitting streak of his professional career.
The learning curve was steep in his first full season with the Low-A Dayton Dragons. Amaral batted only .174 in April with more strikeouts than hits. It was hardly an anomaly, however, as the entire Dayton lineup struggled to run out of the gate. Hitting just .215 two months into the season, Amaral notched a .296 average over the final stretch of the season to finish at .258. The 2013 campaign was the first to truly showcase his speed; his 40 thefts in 52 attempts tied for the most on the Dragons, tied for third in the Midwest League, and stood outright as the third-most in the Reds’ minor league system. The speedy Amaral might not be Billy Hamilton fast, but he’s just as effective. He understands how to read a pitcher’s move to first base, gauge their timing to a tee and steal bases with ease.
The early goings of 2014 have been promising, to say the least. “He is simply hitting the ball with more authority this season,” reports Director of Media Relations and Broadcasting Tom Nichols. “He looks more confident, has a better approach at the plate, and has shown more extra base power.” Amaral wasted no time in the opening series, smashing two doubles in his first two games. Just before making the jump to Pensacola, the leadoff hitter strung together a four-game hitting streak with multi-hit performances in each. He was leading Dayton with 23 hits, 9 stolen bases, and a .329 batting average at the time of his promotion.
After a few years on the farm, his glove is still golden. “He is probably the best defensive center fielder to come through Dayton in the seven years I have been here,” continues Nichols. “He has tremendous instincts, gets a great jump on the ball, takes smooth and direct routes to the ball and and will catch a ball with ease that another outfielder would have to dive to get to.” He proved that point on April 19, when his catch and throw to the plate preserved a tie ballgame and ultimately led to a 3-2 Dragons walk-off.
Brought up as the Wahoos battle the injury bug, whether or not his promotion is permanent remains to be seen. But at least for the short term, Pensacola is in good hands with Amaral patrolling center field.