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.
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.