Rays minor league shortstop Tim Beckham, the first pick in the 2008 draft, restored a bit of luster to his diminished prospect star last season when the 21-year-old reached Triple-A and swatted a career-high 12 homers—16 if you count the Arizona Fall League.
Beckham ceded a lot of that goodwill today following Major League Baseball's announcement that he must serve a 50-game suspension, effective immediately, for twice failing a test for a so-called drug of abuse.
Beckham began the season with Triple-A Durham but had gotten off to a slow start, going 11-for-54 (.204) with two doubles and a triple in 13 games.
The Rays issued a press release in the aftermath of the announcement. In it Beckham is quoted as saying, “I regret that my poor judgment resulted in me letting my teammates and the Tampa Bay Rays organization down . . .
"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 am sorry.”
Beckham starred at Griffin (Ga.) High prior to signing for $6.15 million as the top pick in the country in 2008. He batted a pedestrian .263/.332/.371 during his first three seasons and 1,285 plate appearances in the Rays organization, but he appeared to take a step forward in 2011, which he began with Double-A Montgomery and concluded with an August promotion to Durham. Across the two levels, Beckham batted .271/.328/.408 with 44 extra-base hits in 524 at-bats, and he continued to hit with authority in the AFL.
"We are very disappointed by Tim's actions," said Andrew Friedman, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations, in the press release. "Tim possesses great potential, and he must rededicate himself in order to become the person and player we know he can be.”
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