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Prospect Note: Thoughts on Rays prospect Tim Beckham

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My current thoughts on Rays prospect Tim Beckham.

Tim Beckham
Tim Beckham
Al Messerschmidt

He has just four at-bats so far, but Tampa Bay Rays prospect Tim Beckham is finally in the major leagues. I have been trying to figure out what to say about him, but I'll start this by reviewing what I thought before the season began.

Here is what I wrote about Beckham back in February:

Tim Beckham would be seen as something of a sleeper prospect if his name was Tom Benson and he'd been drafted in the ninth round or something. Alas, Beckham was a first-overall pick in this permutation of the multiverse, and he's probably never going to live that down.

Taken on his own terms, without the background, Beckham is an interesting mix of strengths and weaknesses. He has more pop in his bat than many middle infielders, although he doesn't tap it consistently and his offensive production is always right around league average. Sometimes he shows good strike zone judgment, but more often he doesn't.

He's been young for his leagues, but his skills have grown only slowly. He has a good throwing arm, but his range is inadequate for shortstop and he fits better at second base. At times he comes across as a mature hard-worker, but his effort is inconsistent and he's failed two drug tests now, resulting in a 50-game suspension last year for "drug of abuse" usage.

The sabermetric case for him rests entirely on his age-relative-to-league, but he's 23 now and that's becoming less and less relevant. He looks like a utility guy to me, which would be just fine if he'd been a ninth round pick, not someone the Rays invested $6,150,000 in. Grade C+ since he's still young enough to grow, but that's the last year he'll get any slack without genuine skill improvement.

Six months later, we see Beckham hit .276/.342/.387 for Triple-A Durham, with 25 doubles, four homers, 44 walks, 108 strikeouts in 460 at-bats, with 17 steals in 24 attempts. His overall production was slightly better than average for the International League, with a 106 wRC, slightly improved over the 99 and 100 marks he posted in '12 and '11, but in line with the 106 and 108 marks he posted back in A-ball. Scouting reports on his defense haven't changed much either: he has a good arm but is range is not terrific for a shortstop, although that was his primary position down at Durham.

Bottom line: his bat improved slightly this year, although he was repeating the league, his performance was still far from spectacular, and still fits within the context of his career. Overall it looks to me like Beckham still projects as a utility guy. My thoughts haven't changed.