Rays fans have developed a nearly unwavering trust in Andrew Friedman and the Rays’ front office. But two big mistakes have come back to haunt the Rays: the first, letting Josh Hamilton leave via the Rule 5 Draft, but no one could have anticipated everything coming together for Hamilton just as quickly as it did. The second, however, is something that continues to elicit ridicule among Rays fans and baseball fans everywhere: selecting Tim Beckham over Buster Posey with the first overall selection of the 2008 MLB Draft.
Reading articles like this only gets Rays fans more frustrated. The Rays could have had Buster Posey, and not only that, they were strongly considering him before eventually deciding on Beckham. He was right at their fingertips and they let him get away. Instead of the catcher position being a major weakness for the Rays right now, it could have been among their greatest strengths. What has Beckham given the Rays? Nothing. What has Posey given the Giants? Two World Series rings.
Why did the Rays pass on Posey? They had a 24 year old catcher in Dioner Navarro who was an All-Star in 2008. They wanted to show their fans that even as they transitioned from one of the worst teams in baseball into a perennial contender, their focus remained on the future and on long-term success. And they believed in Beckham’s potential and thought he had a chance to be a superstar in his own right. But drafting a player who had a chance to be a superstar instead of one who could be a star in the big leagues within a couple of years?
It wasn’t that simple. Posey had questions defensively with his receiving ability and at the plate regarding his ability his power. The scouts thought Beckham had a chance to legitimately do it all. If he panned out, he would be hitting for a high average with 30 homers, 30 stolen bases, and great defense at shortstop. That certainly didn’t happen, and Posey has turned out to be better than anyone could have dreamed, with the home plate collision that knocked him out for most of 2011 the only splotch on his near-perfect career thus far. The Rays took a calculated gamble- but it did not work out in the slightest.
The Rays’ selection of Beckham over Posey is an unequivocal failure. At this point, though, what’s done is done, and the Rays are happy with what they can get. Beckham has spent the last 2+ years at Triple-A and is almost ready for the major leagues. He’s been converted to second base, but he has shown flashes of power and pure hitting ability to go along with solid speed, and he has the ability to be an above-average all-around second baseman. The comparison between Beckham and Posey will never go in Beckham’s favor. But he has the ability to contribute to the Rays as soon as next season and they’re happy for everything they get. The Rays can’t be happy with the way their first overall selection for the 2008 Draft has played out. But at the same time things could certainly be worse and they’re looking forward to see what Beckham can do for them in coming years.