Rays' Tim Beckham Trying To Stick At Shortstop




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PHOENIX, ARIZ.—After the Rays made Tim Beckham the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, he stated that he planned on becoming an all-star and possibly a Hall of Famer. After his first three years in pro ball, however, it wasn't apparent what Tampa Bay saw in Beckham to have passed up Buster Posey and Eric Hosmer with that top draft choice.

Beckham batted a combined .263/.332/.371 and committed 81 errors in 278 games at shortstop. Scouts doubted whether he had the athleticism to remain in the middle infield or the bat to handle the offensive responsibilities of an infield or outfield corner.

But Beckham played his way to his first Futures Game (as a replacement for promoted Pirates shortstop Chase d'Arnaud) by hitting .277/.340/.390 this year at Double-A Montgomery. While those aren't massive numbers, they're solid for a 21-year-old in Double-A. He has looked a little quicker and more athletic at shortstop, and he made just 10 errors in 80 first-half games.

"I wanted to be in this game. It's an honor to be in this game," Beckham said. "I've been working hard at it. I've been playing good and I'm just trying to build off that. I can't change the past."

He played a key role in the United States' 6-4 Futures Game victory, doubling in the tying run in the eighth inning with a laser double off a 94-mph fastball from Royals righthander Kelvin Herrera, then scoring the game-winner on a single by Yankees catcher Austin Romine.

Beckham still needs to refine his approach at the plate, particularly with two strikes, but he has given away fewer at-bats this year than in the past and has some power potential. Scouts still aren't sold on him as a middle infielder, primarily because he has a thick lower half and just average range, though he hasn't given up hope of staying at shortstop.

"I think I'm taking care of the routine play better," Beckham said. "I feel great on defense. Any ball on defense, I feel like I can make the play."

Beckham said he hasn't made any drastic changes this year, offensively or defensively, though he thinks playing more relaxed has helped him. He doesn't regret his bold statements from three years ago, and his goals haven't changed.

"The more games you play, everything gets easier. Everything slows down a little bit," he said. "Something a man should never do is lose confidence in himself or his team. I've never gotten down, confidence-wise."