Mar 5, 2012; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Tim Beckham (29) fields a ground ball during the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Charlotte Sports Park. The Orioles defeated the Rays 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Future of Tim Beckham

Recently, John Sickels of SB Nation took a look at former Rays first round pick Tim Beckham. Essentially, at this point he views Beckham as an enigmatic player, whose future may be as a utility infielder. At best, Sickels feels that Beckham could end up as a second baseman, as he feels that Beckham does not have the range for short. However, a spot as a utility infielder may be more likely, given Beckham’s slow development and inconsistencies.

Beckham, the former top prospect, likely can be viewed as a disappointment. Had he not been the top overall pick in the 2008 draft, his progress through the minors would probably be considered acceptable. Despite being fairly young for the leagues he has played in, Beckham has posted an overall .264/.330/.379 batting line with some speed (64 stolen bases) and a bit of pop (107 doubles and 30 home runs) in his five years in the minors. These numbers, while not spectacular, are relatively decent for a player who just turned 23 years old a couple of days ago.

Yet, as it stands, Beckham appears to be without a place on the Rays. Hak-Ju Lee appears to have taken over as the future at shortstop, as Beckham appeared as a second baseman for the first time in his career, playing in 25 games at second for Durham. Even though he did play 48 games at short last year as well, the recently acquired Yunel Escobar is likely to receive majority of the playing time at short this year in Tampa. At second, Ben Zobrist, Ryan Roberts and the newly signed Kelly Johnson are all likely to spend time at second, providing yet another roadblock for Beckham. Even though Johnson is on a one year deal, both Zobrist and Roberts are under team control until 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Looking towards the future at second, Beckham may not be considered then either. Jake Hager and Ryan Brett, two infield prospects at Bowling Green last year, may develop into major league caliber second basemen, and be ready when Zobrist and Roberts have departed. Although Hager is presently a shortstop, it is thought that he may eventually play at second, which could give him a chance as a utility infielder at the very least.

This year, Beckham may end up in a battle with Elliot Johnson, Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez for a utility spot on the Opening Day roster. Looking ahead, it appears as though that may be his future, at least with the Rays. Unless something unforeseen happens, or everything comes together for him, Beckham may simply be a victim the Rays not having a place for him on their team.

It appears as though the future for Tim Beckham may be as a utility infielder. Considering the expectations for him on draft day, this has to be considered a disappointment.

Tags: Tampa Bay Rays Tim Beckham

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