It sounds cheesy to talk about a “relaxed” and “comfortable” approach at the plate when discussing a man who literally has the words “bed” and “good” in his last name.
But if you ask the Keene Swamp Bats’ David Bedgood what the key to his stellar summer has been, he’ll say it’s been his even-keeled mindset.
“I think I’ve just been very relaxed up here,” Bedgood said. “It’s been a lot of fun; I’ve been playing loose and I really enjoy this team.
“I think playing tight doesn’t do anybody any good, because baseball is a game of failure. I think that you have to realize that at the plate, 70 percent of the time it’s not gonna work out for you. Dealing with that failure and learning how to bounce back from it and forget about your last at-bat is just crucial.”
The rising junior at Tulane University has already racked up a large list of accomplishments in Keene. His selection as the Northern Division’s starting left fielder for Sunday’s NECBL All-Star Game is just part of it.
He also leads the Bats in several statistical categories: home runs (14), runs scored (46), RBI (39), hits (56), batting average (.361), slugging percentage (.697), games played (39) and at-bats (155). His season has not only been dominant, it’s been record-setting.
Bedgood has already broken Keene’s single-season record for runs scored, set by Myron Leslie with 38 in 2001. He has also tied Gil Barkman’s home run record that dates back to the Bats’ first season, in 1998, and is on pace to break his slugging record (.686) from the same year.
He also tied Andrew Davis’ hits record from 2005, and is 10 RBI away from matching former teammate Brandon Smith’s league-record mark from last year. With six games left in the regular season, he is even on pace to break the games played record (42) — held by Dan Moylan (1998), Ashley Freeman (2000) and Jim Negrych (2004)) — and the at-bats record (166) set by Kevin Melillo in 2001.
“There’s been a lot of really, really good players that have come through and played for the Swamp Bats,” Bedgood said. “So, to be able to be in the record book in one, if not multiple categories, is really an accomplishment, and it’s something that I’ll be really very proud of.”
Bedgood’s ability to go with the flow has served him well not just at the plate, but in the field.
He has played four different positions, recording 173 innings at second base, nine at third, 25 in left and the rest at designated hitter, his primary position from last spring at Tulane.
“I think of [Chicago Cubs player] Ben Zobrist,” Keene Manager Gary Calhoun said. “I don’t know if I could put him in that category, but he does play multiple positions and who knows how good he’ll get at doing that.”
Bedgood has had a flare for the explosive and the dramatic this summer. Highlights include a two-home run, seven-RBI game against the Winnipesaukee Muskrats on June 21; a walk-off three-run homer against the Valley Blue Sox June 28; a two-run shot as part of an eight-run inning against the Danbury Westerners July 13; a game-tying double late in a seven-inning, 4-3 win over Valley July 23; and a 23-game hitting streak spanning from June 28 through July 23.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Calhoun said. “I harp on making your average with the balls that you hit with authority as opposed to hits, because it tells you really what you’re doing, whether it’s correct or not, and he probably hits the ball hard more than anybody on the team, at least once or twice a game.”
Bedgood is one of 14 Tulane players to take part in summer ball this year.
The list includes former Keene teammate and pitcher Josh Bates, who left early after five appearances and three innings pitched. Also appearing in the NECBL have been Danbury Westerners pitcher Justin Campbell — who also left early after seven games (three starts) and 21.1 innings — and Newport Gulls outfielder Hudson Haskin — who has put together a strong season with a slash line of .308/.336/.487 with five homers and 22 RBI, and was given the final spot on the Southern Division All-Star team after winning the fan vote.
Bedgood has easily put out the best performance among his Green Wave teammates, but he was quick to point out other summer studs as well.
Frankie Niemann, a catcher for the Victoria HarbourCats of the West Coast League, has a league-best on-base percentage of .512, ranks second in batting average at .396 and was named the North’s starting catcher for that league’s All-Star Game. Cody Pellerin of the Cape Cod League’s Orleans Firebirds has a perfect 0.00 ERA, three saves and 18 strikeouts through 11 appearances and 10 innings of work.
“It’s looking like we’re going to have a lot of talent coming back to Tulane,” Bedgood said. “We’re just going to work on trying to piece it together and finally make a run at something.”
Tulane saw six of its players selected in this year’s MLB Draft and eight sign as undrafted free agents. This included first-round pick Kody Hoese, who went to the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 25th pick.
Bedgood said that, like everyone else, he has aspirations of going pro as well. Calhoun — who has worked in the past as a minor league coach in the Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees organizations — said he’ll have a good chance at the pros if his play this summer continues on into his college career.
But Bedgood, a business major at Tulane, said that — like with his game — he’s going to play it loose and take things as they come.
“I’ve always said I’m gonna play as long as it makes sense,” Bedgood said. “If I get that opportunity, yes, I would love to play professional baseball. But if it doesn’t work out, I’m at a great school at Tulane, and our coaches do a great job of letting us get our education and making that an important part of being at Tulane.
“I’m just taking it one day at a time. If it works out, it works out, and if it doesn’t, I’m also going to be in a good position to have a lot of success in life.”