Tim Beckham reported to Rays camp 15 pounds later this season and has impressed observers with his athleticism. Is he finally going to live up the potential that the Rays saw in him when they took him with the first overall pick back in 2008?
Beckham inspired a lot of hype prior to the 2008 draft, but since then he has been criticized for having more of a pitcher’s build than a position player’s at 6’0″, 190. Now, he’s 6’0″, 175 and looks a lot more like a shortstop. There has been talk of Beckham moving off shortstop and that is still a possibility, but the 22 year old’s newfound athleticism could help him stay entrenched right where he is.
Beckham had his best season in the minors in 2011 between Triple-A Durham and Double-A Montgomery, posting a .271/.328/.408 line with 28 doubles, 4 triples, 12 homers, 70 RBI, 94 runs, and 17 stolen bases in 22 attempts. He was supposed to be a five-tool player and he finally started showing that. He still needs work hitting for average and at plate discipline, considering he struck out 120 times compared to 43 walks, but he started hitting for good power for a middle infielder while showing good speed and instincts on the basepaths, his steadfastly strong arm, and although his glovework was a little ruffled at times, he got the job done. The Rays would like Beckham to hit for a higher average, steal more bases, and play better defense. He certainly has the ability to do so, and his commitment to getting himself in shape, as evidenced by his trimming down this offseason is a very positive sign. We’ve talked before about the stats. Beckham has realized the sense of urgency that he needs to have. Now he has to go out on the field and execute. If he’s ever going to be a starting player for the Rays, he has to prove himself in 20112.