It’s been six months since North Davidson HS (North Carolina) outfielder Austin Beck played in a competitive baseball game. He hit two home runs and drove in five for his high school in the first round of the playoffs, leading his team to a 9-0 win and setting the table not only for a deep playoff run but a launching pad to a big summer leading into his senior season.
That all changed the last time he took the field back on May 13. While warming up for his team’s second-round game, he planted to make a throw from the outfield, but his cleat didn’t grab and his knee hyper-extended. His hope? A sprain. But when he was walking off the field, he was accidentally bumped, sending him to the ground unable to get up.
“I knew something was up,” he said.
Beck tore the ACL in his left knee — from the throw, not the bump — sidelining the North Carolina baseball commit and MLB Draft prospect for the summer, potentially hindering his development during a key time.
“It was really tough, mentally and physically,” Beck told FanRag Sports. “Sitting there watching your friends play while you’re sitting at home and can’t really do anything, it’s hard.”
But after days and nights of long, boring physical therapy, Beck is healthy and working out with no limitations, full-speed ahead. He was given the go-ahead just five months after surgery.
“My doctor was really surprised, but I put in a lot of hard work so I wasn’t really surprised with it,” he said. “It feels really great (to be healthy again). There were about five months where I couldn’t really do anything.”
For those five months, Beck tried staying off social media. Throwing into a net from a chair became his new favorite activity. It was just about all he could do.
“It makes you appreciate the game a lot more.”
But what about missing five months of game action, development and being in front of scouts for next year’s draft?
“I don’t really think it impacted because I grinded so hard to get back,” he said. “I got back within five months, which is really quick, so I don’t think it impacted that much.”
Back in the cage, here’s what he looks like post-surgery:
— Tommy Stokke (@StokkeTommy) November 29, 2016
“He looks bigger in a good way from when I last saw him, like he’s packed on some muscle,” FanRag senior prospect analyst Jesse Burkhart said of Beck.
That he has. Since playing in Jupiter last year, Beck has put on 20 pounds and is up to an even 200 on his 6-foot-2-inch frame.
Beck will command plenty of attention from area scouts, perhaps even more after his lost summer. In addition to his commitment to North Carolina, Perfect Game considered him a top-20 high school player in the country.
He’s ready to live up to, and improve on, those expectations.
“I’m just excited to play baseball again,” he said. “I’m constantly working to get better day and night. I want to continue to work hard and improve myself.”
A state championship is at the top of Beck’s goals when his senior season begins, but the thought of getting drafted and having the opportunity to play professional baseball is a reality setting in.
“I’ve always been a fan of North Carolina and always wanted to go there to play baseball,” he said. “But the draft didn’t really come in until freshman or sophomore year. I thought ‘hey, maybe I can play professional baseball if I continue to work hard.'”
His speed is his strength, he says, whether it’s on the bases or his jumps in the outfield. But he still wants to find ways to better use it in addition to improving his overall game.
There are still eyes to open after being put to the side while on the mend, but following a grueling rehab to get back as quickly as possible, the progress is more than encouraging.
“I feel 10 times better than I did before, especially my swing,” he said. “I don’t even feel any torque in my knee. It feels a whole lot better than it did before.”