For the first time ever, we finally felt like it was worth it. Making his first career start on September 23rd, Tim Beckham gave the Rays a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a sac fly before drilling an opposite-field single and scoring the Rays’ second run in the 4th. It was just one game, but Beckham was there in the major leagues helping the team that drafted him win a critical matchup against the Baltimore Orioles. It felt good. We realized somewhere in the back of our heads that Beckham would never live up to the standard set when he was drafted, especially if we compare him to Buster Posey or whoever else we would have picked, but we also knew that everything was relative. If Tim Beckham became an impact player for the Rays, that might just be good enough for now. In ten years we will chastise the Rays for making the wrong selection at first overall, but right there we saw Beckham as a talented young player poised to become a part of the Rays’ success, and that felt fulfilling. We needed to see more, but after everything Beckham had been through, all the failure he had experienced and the mistakes he had made time after time, he was finally on the right track to change his story and go down as more than just the player the Rays should not have picked. But now, once again, Beckham’s future prospects have been thrown into question and we have no idea what will happen from here.
Marc Topkin reported that Beckham tore his ACL in his right knee, apparently while working out, and he is expected to miss most of 2014 as a result. Beckham was going to make the major leagues for the Rays, and it was only a matter of time. He was going to start the season back at Triple-A for the third straight year, but an injury or a sub-par perormance was going to bring him to the major leagues and he was finally going to carve out a role for himself. Instead, Beckham will be on the sidelines as other players zoom by him on the depth chart and the Rays move on without him. After he had finally emerged as a big league option in September, he is going to find himself forgotten again and labeled a bust on the rare occasions where his name is indeed brought up. This was a freak accident, not a suspension that Beckham could have avoided. He was working hard preparing for the season, and something went wrong. We could he have done? But the effect of what happened will be even worse, and suddenly another year will go by without Tim Beckham establishing himself in the major leagues.
The Rays will keep waiting for Tim Beckham. Regardless of his past or the future he was supposed to have, he is talented enough to warrant a spot on their 40-man roster and an opportunity at some point to help their team win games. He still has time to get his career going and become well-remembered for his years in the major leagues. But 2014 will go down as the latest year that slipped out of his fingertips, another year where the questions overcome the answers and we are left shaking our heads.