Tim Beckham, the 2008 first overall pick of the Tampa Bay Rays, was suspended for 50 games yesterday for violating the leagues substance abuse rules. Beckham had been struggling with AAA pitching hitting a combined 0.238 between this year and last. When I first heard about this, I figured he tried to juice and got caught. Nope, he suspended for smoking pot.
I am not a Rays fan but was planning on going to my first Bulls game of the season on Thursday. I even made a custom card to try and get him to sign it for me. Beckham is a notoriously bad through the mail signer. Still it had been a while since a high school position player was selected first overall and I was rooting for him to succeed.
It’s difficult to determine how good any high school player can become for 4 – 6 years after they have been drafted. I always envisioned Beckham of being a Brandon Phillips type of player. A 20-20 guy but in Tim’s case, he could hit for average as well.
The Rays passed on some pretty talented players in that draft. Most experts even say they didn’t even draft the best high school positional player in Eric Hosmer. The Rays were all about signability and Hosmer, Alverez, and Posey all commanded signing bonus figures north of $5 million. When you have the first pick in any draft though, it should never be about the money. You take the best overall player. Something they have for the most part done, since the Beckham disaster.
So Beckham is going home for the next 50 days to as he put it:
… I will use this experience to refocus my commitment to baseball. I recognize that I am blessed to be able to play baseball for a living. I owe it to my teammates, my family, and to myself to respect the game and the responsibilities that go with playing it as a professional.
I hope that without the influence of pot he can manage to refocus himself into becoming a better player. It’s hard to remember he is only 22 years old. It is quite possible he could become a special player. He has about 2 years left to dispel the negative surrounding this suspension and become the player the Rays envisioned him becoming. If he doesn’t do it before turning 25 though, I have to consider this pick to be a bust.
His autograph once commanded big money. Now after basically becoming a bust in most people’s minds, you can have most of his autographs from anywhere from $1 to $5. It’s just too early to consider him a bust, even with the suspension. Maybe I’m just an optimist, but sometimes you need something like this to slap you back to reality. He owned the mistake, and vowed to concentrate more on baseball. I hope he comes through.
What is your take on the Tim Beckham saga?