Tim Beckham has been a bit of an enigma almost since being drafted first overall. Perhaps this is due to his lofty draft status, and the some of the notable players that were taken after him, such as Buster Posey, Eric Hosmer and Ike Davis. Perhaps it is due to his effort, or perceived lack thereof, and his suspension for drug use. Perhaps it is due to the plethora of options that the Rays have in the middle of their infield, as well as other prospects that are regarded higher than Beckham presently is. Regardless of the reason, it does not seem as though most people have high expectations for him at this stage of his career. In fact, one of the top suggestions when searching for Beckham on Google is ‘Tim Beckham bust’.
However, it appears as though Beckham is still considered to be a part of the Tampa Bay Rays future, and not as a trade chip. Beckham has impressed the organization with his hard work and his improved attitude. In fact, his manager at Durham, Charlie Montoyo, praised Beckham recently, referring to him as a first to the clubhouse and last to leave type of player.
The biggest reason for the optimism around Beckham appears to be how he is continuing to make improvements and is responding to coaching. His fielding had been improving at shortstop, and even though they moved him to second base, they feel his athleticism could play anywhere on the field. Joe Maddon mentioned that he not only is listening to his coaches, but accepting and processing their suggestions.
“I think he’s at the point now where the things we’re saying to him are beginning to make sense,” Maddon said. “He looks great. … I’m really excited.”
Even though Beckham is slated to return to the Bulls to begin the 2013 season, that does not mean that the Rays have soured on him. He continues to impress observers with his bat speed, and the Rays still believe that he has power that he has yet to tap into. He continues to learn second base, a position he had not played prior to last season, and may get some time in the outfield. With the high value that the Rays place upon versatility, the idea that they are searching for ways to get Beckham on the field is a good sign for his future. While he may not end up as a “starter” in the traditional sense should he make the majors, there is a chance that he could end up receiving a lot of playing time.
Still only 23 years old, there is still a future ahead for Tim Beckham. As it stands, it appears as though that future may still be in Tampa Bay.