Tim Beckham Has Left The Building

After the Rays traded for Yunel Escobar, I began working on a piece discussing prospect ETA’s and how off-season moves affected players like Tim Beckham. In it, I closed the door on Beckham and the Rays due to Ben Zobrist and his team friendly contract manning second base for the next three seasons.

With each read, I re-worked and lightened my wording because of Zobrist’s ability to play the outfield and the fact the Rays had an organizational hole to fill there. With the addition of uber-prospect Wil Myers, a right-fielder, consider the hole emphatically closed and punch Beckham’s bust card as well.

In 2009, I had the chance to see Tim Beckham in Savannah and chose a double-header scouting the former top pick over book end starts by Matt Moore and Jordan Lyles. At the time, it seemed like sound reasoning. Now, not so much. Shortly after scouting Beckham, I wrote a report on the teenage shortstop which drew the ire of the prospect community based on the summation below.

Amongst the few glimpses of what made Beckham the first overall pick in the 2008 draft were enough questions for me to downgrade his prospect status from pre-season elite to borderline top 100, if not lower. With his ability to stay at shortstop in doubt, along with questions surrounding his speed, is he a five-tool talent or tweener who may be forced off of the position which made him so valuable in the first place? As 2009 comes to a close, the Rays simply can’t be pleased with the early on field results of their six million dollar man.

2009 ended with Beckham posting a .717 OPS in Single-A — Not bad for a teenage prospect. 2010 saw him once again ranked in the top-100, albeit 40 spots lower than the year previous. In High-A, a .705 OPS indicated Beckham was at least able to maintain his so-so numbers as he advanced through the organization. In 2011, Beckham’s .736 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A was a modest improvement and an indication he still deserved to be part of the Rays future plans.

Then, the wheels fell off…

After a .204/.290/.278 line this past April, Beckham missed all of May and much of June serving a 50-game suspension for a drug of abuse. By the end of the season, his .686 OPS in 72 games proved disappointing. Add to this a sub par AFL performance where he appeared exclusively at second base and what’s left is a Tim Beckham whose value is at an all time low.

In 2013, Beckham will open the season in Triple-A as a 23-year old hoping to rebound. Regardless, the Rays have made moves indicating the organization has moved on from Beckham — permanently.

Yunel Escobar will play shortstop until Hak-Ju Lee, a top shortstop prospect previously acquired to compete with Beckham, is ready to assume the torch.

The addition of Wil Myers solidifies an outfield of trio including Matt Joyce and Desmond Jennings.

Ben Zobrist is the everyday second baseman.

From number one pick to organizational afterthought, Beckham’s fall from the prospect pantheon has been well documented. With his value reduced to nothing, it makes little sense for the organization to deal him. That’s unfortunate for Beckham as a change of scenery might be the best way to earn an extended look at the Major League level.

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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.

49 Responses to “Tim Beckham Has Left The Building”

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  1. Ivan Grushenko says:

    Rays still need a 1B and DH. Beckham just needs to outhit James Loney and Brandon Guyer. The Rays could get a DH via trade but that still leaves Loney. I have a feeling if Beckham hits well enough at AAA to merit a MLB shot, he’ll get it with the Rays. If nothing else he could be a versatile backup like Zobrist used to be.

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  2. Ben says:

    I think that’s an aspect of the Meyers-Shields analysis that’s been missing, and that’s what it says about the Rays. Sure, everyone wants top prospects, and I think this is going to work out for the Rays, but the thing is, maybe this deal shows that the Rays’ front office isn’t smarter than everyone else. Their remarkably fecund system is, while not fallow, certainly diminished, and that’s largely attributable to mediocre drafting. They astutely got guys like Chris Archer for Garza, but most of their recent drafts have been busts. Their 2011 draft, where they were supposed to clean up and build for their future has been pretty meh. It’s obviously way too early to close the book on that cohort, but Taylor Guerrieri is the highest ceiling guy there with a #3 ceiling.
    The Rays have always been touted as the smartest guys in the room; that’s not saying much when your competition is Dayton Moore though. They need Wil Meyers, and they need him bad, because there’s no one else coming up through their system, and they’re trying to compete in the AL East on a tight budget. The Rays have a fantastic window right now, but I wonder if their extra 2% was ephemeral.

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    • d_i says:

      FWIW – Keith Law said Guerrieri has an ace ceiling in his chat last week.

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    • Travis L says:

      Another narrative would be that draft picks are inherently risky, with a wide range of possible outcomes regardless of when they’re taken. Perhaps the Rays realize this, and are willing to adjust their interest in players with a few years of MiLB data.

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      • Ben says:

        Absolutely. But it’s a hell of a lot easier to look smart drafting #1 (David Price), #2 (BJ Upton) or #3 (Evan Longoria) than it is 29th.

        As for Guerrieri, here’s Jason Parks’ take–he’s a legit prospect, no question, but his ceiling isn’t ace, as far as I can tell.

        Guerrieri was a first round pick in the 2011 draft, viewed by many as one of the top high school arms available. The Rays like to go slow and low with their arms, and simmering on the back burner can help disguise his prospecty value. His stuff as a professional isn’t as electric or intimidating as it was as an amateur, where he once sat in the 93-97 range with his fastball and used a hard, hammer curve to break the heart of many a high school hitter. The new Guerrieri might not have the same dominating presence he once had, but the pitchability has improved and the overall package remains very promising. Working mostly with a heavy low-90s fastball and a 79-83 curve that is major league quality, Guerrieri is hitting his spots, missing bats and limiting hard contact in short-season ball. He might not have the same elite projection as he had only a short time ago, but the total package could make him a solid number three starter at the major league level; he has the size and the strength to log innings and hold velocity, at least a solid-average fastball that features heavy sinking action, good command, a plus secondary pitch that can miss bats, and a competitive approach to pitching. That’s a profile that belongs in the top 50.

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      • B N says:

        They’re inherently risky, but the bigger issue has been that the Rays aren’t drafting close to the top anymore. Guys in the top 5 typically provide SOME return (though not star return). When your record means you’ve got a pick between 20-30, it’s going to be a lot harder to find a guy who even has a sure chance of breaking an MLB roster.

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      • pudieron89 says:

        You can’t criticize the team for having high draft picks in the same breath as saying they’re dumb for missing on other ones. News flash: prospects fail, and they fail most of the time.

        And if you think the Rays system is diminished, you’re either asinine or trolling. Easily a top 10 system, one of the few orgs with a win-now team and a win-later prospect pipeline. As for the 2011 draft criticism, they had a massive number of picks and not enough major signing bonuses to go around. Of course they had to take bigger question marks that would sign for lower, their pockets have bottoms.

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    • Brad says:

      Put the thesaurus away and Google “Wil Myers” instead.

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    • Joe says:

      There’s a reason drafts aren’t hyped up. They’re a crap shoot. You’re as likely to be a big leaguer at the end of the first as you are at the beginning of the first just because of how hard it is to project how a kid will develop physically. A first round pick pretty much guarantees you AA ball and not much else regardless of the organization.

      I think the Rays are considered better not because of their drafting, where everyone is roughly equal just due to pure chance, but because of how they work the market to trade for talent, with a better chance of cost effective success, when their players are at the peak of their value.

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    • TD says:

      Guerrieri’s CEILING is as a #1 starting pitcher. The absolute MINIMUM CEILING someone can reasonably state is as a #2. He has 2 PLUS pitches and the makings of a 3rd. His command is PLUS for a pitcher at his age, and his results were excellent.
      Obviously, there were the reports about his velo being down, but this was based off one report if memory serves. And Brady Williams, his manager said his velo was as advertised.

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    • Baltar says:

      The Rays’ front office is clearly smarter than everyone else’s. Their consistently great results with one of the lowest budgets is proof of that.
      As for drafting, it’s very difficult to draft well near the bottom, so they traded for a great group of prospects.
      Right now, they are beyond a doubt in the top third of teams in major league talent and probably in minor league talent, no matter how they got there (probably closer to #1 than #10 in both).
      Who else is even close to them in bang for the buck?

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  3. acesfull23 says:

    So……..an ‘I told you so’ article. Kudos to you sir. Egostroking ftw.

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  4. Pinstripe Wizard says:

    I thought he got suspended for failing multiple drug tests, not PEDs.

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  5. Marver says:

    As someone who plays in a deep dynasty format, and traded Neil Walker for basically nothing (a few months of Ted Lilly, I believe) just prior to his big-league arrival based on continued minor league disappointment, I am buying Tim Beckham if I can get my hands on him.

    I’m not saying that Tim Beckham and Neil Walker possess similar qualities that would make this make sense, nor am I saying that Tim Beckham will end up being good. I’m just saying that this article is premature in stating that the Rays have “permanently” moved on from Beckham; as well run as they are, I have a hard time believing the Rays are dismissive of anybody at any point.

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    • cs3 says:

      ” I’m not saying that Tim Beckham and Neil Walker possess similar qualities that would make this make sense, nor am I saying that Tim Beckham will end up being good. ”

      then what the hell are you saying? why would you even mention Neil Walker in the comments section of a Tim Beckham article if you arent “saying” anything about him?

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    • Allen says:

      This comment is bizarrely relevant to me this morning as I decide who will stick around on my minor league roster in my 20-team dynasty league. The last two players on my to-be-cut bubble are: Tim Beckham and … Neil Walker. I’ve decided Walker is definitely gone, and I think it’s time to say goodbye to Beckham as well.

      I’ve had this guy for 3 years, and the only thing he’s done consistently is underperform. Between a sub-ideal OPS … a bad attitude … the weed suspension … and other prospects passing him by, this just isn’t going to happen.

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  6. Tom Tebow says:

    Buster Posey would have looked real good behind the plate…

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  7. Bill says:

    when you are striking out 22%+ of the time it’s going to be tough to workout when you possess league average power AT BEST, which probably profiles to below average MLB power, it doesn’t look good.

    Regardless, he could be better than Brignac or Rodriguez as a backup MI. That is a bust though.

    The Rays still have Mahtook and Shafer, and Josh Sale. But yes, no one ‘homegrown’ that is as exciting as Price, Longoria, Moore, Jennings particularly at the higher levels, so thank you royals!

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  8. AK7007 says:

    Is it “bust” for sure – or would he have some sort of value as a utility man? Being non-terrible at SS bodes well for how his glove plays elsewhere, combined with the fact that everything about him seems to scream “average” = bench guy. Just because he was awarded an oversize bonus doesn’t mean he can’t produce some sort of value.

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  9. Busty LaRue says:

    Played against Beckham and with several of his former teammates. Knew he’d be a bust the moment I heard his name mentioned in Baseball America.

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    • Heather says:

      It’s might be an informative comment if you’d tell us why this is, instead of patting yourself on the back.

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    • Socratic Dialectic says:

      I played with Beckham in high school and in all of his showcases. I can tell he was overrated right away. It was just so obvious. Oh wait, now I remember. I didn’t actually play with Beckham right away. I was that kid who lived only 63 miles away from Beckham, knew the name of his high school, and played JV for one season as a senior (I got one AB on senior night with a K). Everyone is so amazed at how talented I am because I almost knew that Beckham kid. I am so desperate to get attention that this is my only outlet. *Sigh* Oh well, back to my Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and another night of watching season 3 of House.

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    • cs3 says:

      So Busty, what youre saying is, Beckham was a heck of a lot better than you?

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      • Busty LaRue says:

        Yes, maybe my comment was not constructive, but to clarify further, his suspension did not surprise me from rumors I had heard. He had, and has, loads of talent, but did not seem head and shoulders above the rest of the field in a purely baseball sense. This thought was based on discussions with several of his former teammates, as well as my own opinions based on watching him. The idea of the original post was to say that those who played against him before the draft thought he was overrated (not just my own opinion, although I did not state that very clearly in the original post). And yes he was about 1,000 times more talented than I.

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  10. Phantom Stranger says:

    It’s the great unknown in baseball scouting. Some athletes will simply never be able to hit MLB-caliber pitching and no one has a perfect system predicting if a prospect can hit once the pitchers get better.

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  11. MakeitRayn says:

    The Rays would never think about holding onto a player until he is 26-32 to maximize value in his prime years…

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  12. Mitch says:

    Tim Beckham + josh sale for Jason kubel Quien dice uh uh?

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  13. Ashitaka says:

    I wouldn’t get too excited about Hak-Ju Lee yet either, the guy has looked exceedingly unimpressive at the AA level with nearly 650 PAs.

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  14. Brad Johnson says:

    I agree with the thrust of the article, but it’s a little specious to say the door is permanently closed on Beckham when only one player (out of 3 possible) needs to get injured in order to open the door again. That’s not even counting the 1B/DH blackholes.

    It would be much more accurate to say that the Rays are not making any plans around Beckham. If he finds a role with the team, they’ll be happy. If he doesn’t, they have their bases covered.

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  15. dan r says:

    Can anyone say outfield? Not because we saw upton do it, but he is the kid that either didn’t need fundamentals, (in hi sown head) or wasn’t taught them, put him in LF, nice and easy, “you throw to this guy yelling cut” let him relax play an easy position, and see if his bat comes around. what do they have to lose?

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  16. tyler says:

    is 2013 a make-or-break time for beckham, or will the rays keep him on the 40-man every year just because of his first-pick status? no trade value, but too much value for a rule 5?

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    • Bill says:

      It’s a make or break year in the sense that he needs to make the 25 man roster or at least show significant improvement and consistency at AAA. It doesn’t have to be stupendous improvement, just enough to make the team consider him as a UTIL guy. If he doesn’t then yes, he’ll be dropped from the 40 man option

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  17. Mike Newman says:

    If you took the time to comment on this piece, let me apologize for not replying yet. Kitchen mishap left me splinted and unable to type well.

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  18. Tom Tom says:

    I got the chance to play with and against Tim multiple times in high school and have always found his game incredibly intriguing. On one hand you had a kid with a rocket arm, speed of a cheetah, smooth infield actions, and flashes of a big bat. Then again you also had the arrogant kid yelling at teammates for errors, committed 3 or 4 errors himself in a few games (flat out pathetic ones at times), and often instigating fights and arguments with obnoxious comments to the other team while striking out 4 times. He will probably break in the bigs at some point and I wish him all the best, but it’s hard to root for someone that has the attitude that you see from him at times. Jason Heyward and Tim always reminded me of each other in that they were both always incredibly talented, but with Jason you get a passionate guy that plays the game the right way all the time. If Tim acted like this, I bet more people would be pulling for him and he would probably get a more realistic shot at being an everyday guy. Regardless, I’m not sure he is quite a bust yet and hope that maybe in the grand scheme of things…he turns the 50 game suspension into a positive by recommitting himself and helping realize just how lucky he is to be playing.

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