Revisiting last year’s top pick

With the number one pick in the 2008 draft the Tampa Bay Rays selected the toolsy prep shortstop Timothy Beckham.

Beckham has solid speed, great range and hands, and above-average arm strength which will allow him to stay at shortstop in the future. His premier athleticism has scouts drooling, but there is growing concern about his slender frame and ability to hit for power.

In his first full professional season he is batting an unspectacular .281/.335/.403 for Bowling Green of the South Atlantic League on the year. His strike zone command has been rather poor, as is expected with most 19-year old prospects, which has resulted in a lowly .29 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Beckham’s numbers may be greatly influenced by his home park. His home OPS is .601 while his road OPS stands at .871. His BABIP is also over 100 points higher on the road. Strangely, it appears no other teammates are as greatly affected by their home stadium.

Despite his great speed (reported 6.3 seconds in the 60-yard dash) he has been been caught stealing nine times in 21 attempts. He has also hit into nine double-plays this season.

Beckham is clearly still raw. His defense as supposedly advanced beyond his bat but he has committed 40 errors on the season. These struggles are likely due to the steep learning curve and adjusting to pro-ball at such a young age. There is still plenty to look forward to for Rays fans, Beckham is mature enough to handle the pressures and struggles of being a rising star at a premium position unlike other past number one picks (Matt Bush anyone).

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Baseball America has hinted that he’s put on some weight this year and that may be the cause of some of his struggles on the basepaths. Can you confirm this?

Alex Pedicini
Alex Pedicini

Recent scouting reports (like this one (

indicate that he his lower half has become much thicker (think Miguel Tejada). This very well could be the reason his stolen base numbers are down. I still think he needs some upper body strength to hit for more power down the road though.

Obviously he is still growing and maturing, but if he does in fact grow out of the shortstop position I would think Tampa would be disappointed considering alot of his value came from the fact that he projected to stay at the position in the long haul.