Tampa Bay Rays: Could this be Beckham’s Last Opportunity

Feb 18, 2017; Port Charlotte, FL, USA;Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Tim Beckham (1) poses for a photo during photo day at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 18, 2017; Port Charlotte, FL, USA;Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Tim Beckham (1) poses for a photo during photo day at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Endless opportunities have been bestowed on Tim Beckham, who has yet to prove his potential that has been envisioned by the Tampa Bay Rays since being drafted, that is until now, in what could be his last.

Tampa Bay Rays infielder Tim Beckham was demoted for lackadaisical play last August and not called-up when rosters expanded in September, many assumed he had played his way out of the organization. However, because of his athleticism, new found versatility and that the Rays still believe in him, Beckham has been given another chance to prove himself.

Since being drafted by the Rays with the first overall pick in the 2008 Draft right out of high school, Beckham has yet to capitalize on the many opportunities to be an everyday player. At the time of the draft, numerous baseball publications including Baseball America had rated him as the top high school prospect.

His potential was endless, a five-tool player – one that can hit for power, excels at hitting for average, excellent baserunning skills with speed plus superior throwing and fielding abilities. This was Beckham and the Rays decided to select him over Buster Posey, who was selected by the San Francisco Giants four picks later.

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Beckham earned his first call-up to the Rays in September 2013 having hit .276 at Triple-A Durham. In 122 games, he had 4 homers with 51 RBIs and 17 steals. He would make his debut on September 19 and appear in five games with a slash line of .429/.375/.429 putting him in a position to earn a spot on the opening day roster of 2014.

A torn ACL and surgery in December of 2013 put his 2014 season on hold though he did manage to play in a combined 24 games between the Gulf Coast Rays, Charlotte and Durham where he hit .295/.333/.389.

His big opportunity finally came in 2015 when he would make his first Opening Day roster; however, there was now Asdrubal Cabrera and Logan Forsythe to compete with for playing time, more or less leaving him as a backup at short and second.

Just over a month into the season, the Rays optioned Beckham back to Triple-A Durham as they were in need of a pitcher and since he had an option remaining that was the sole reasoning for his demotion.

“It was difficult there’s not doubt about it. I think their all tough, this one was deserving to kind of shake everybody up because of what Beckham has provided the type of player he’s been and probably most importantly the type of teammate he’s been – everybody loves him.” Rays Manager Kevin Cash said.

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Beckham would make the 2016 Opening Day roster as a utility player, taking reps at short and second base. He would play in 64 games with a slash line of .247/.300/.434 with five home runs and just 16 RBIs before his season came tumbling down.

During a six-game road trip, Beckham committed the cardinal sin of lackadaisical baserunning. Not once, or twice but three times with the latest coming in a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 31, that caused the Rays a run. Following the game, Beckham was demoted to Durham.

“Definitely the not hustling,” Cash said. “That is required of us, and that’s probably the easiest part to do in baseball.”

August 31 was the last time Beckham would wear a Ray’s uniform, as he was not recalled with the expansion of rosters in September. Many speculated that this was the final straw and that his days in the organization were numbered.

Fast forward to spring training 2017 and Beckham now 27-years-old comes into camp as a utility player with numerous roles attached to his repertoire that now includes the outfield.

There are no guarantees that he will make the team out of spring training, but he has this opportunity to prove that he is deserving of a roster spot because of his versatility, because he loves the game and he is being given another chance. If there was any time in his career, where he needed to seize this chance it is now. It is Beckham’s to win or lose.

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Beckham is embracing the opportunity “I just want to play, man,” Beckham said. “I want to play and win games.”