Rays will choose Beckham at No. 1
Tampa Bay opts for talented Georgia high school shortstop
BOSTON -- Tim Beckham will be No. 1.
The Rays, holding the first overall selection in today's First-Year Player Draft, will select the talented high school shortstop from Griffin, Ga., according to officials with knowledge of the team's decision.
Before the team had made its decision, Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison called Beckham "a really good player at a premium position."
"Middle of the field player, very good athlete, an advanced bat," Harrison said. "Has a real good awareness on the field. He plays the game with a great deal of enthusiasm. And then when you spend time with him away from the field, he's the same guy. He's a fun guy to be around."
The Rays have the No. 1 overall selection for the fourth time in their history. Beckham will become the third high school player the Rays have selected with that top pick. Last year's No. 1 pick, David Price, a left-handed pitcher from Vanderbilt, was the lone exception to the prep flavor. In 1999 and 2003, the Rays used the top pick to select high school outfielders in Josh Hamilton and Delmon Young; both outfielders are now in the Major Leagues with other clubs.
Beckham stands 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, which lends him the physical stature to play most positions. Harrison said Beckham "absolutely" will be a shortstop in the Rays organization. A five-tool player, he is said to have the prerequisite range to remain at shortstop.
While Beckham is said to have a good feel for the game, he has some mechanical flaws to his swing. Nevertheless, he still has excellent bat speed. And though he's not a finished product, he has the kind of high ceiling the Rays found irresistible.
Partial credit for Beckham's selection needs to go to his older brother, Jeremy, who is a senior at Georgia Southern and also a prospect to be drafted. Jeremy is credited with keeping his brother interested in baseball during a period earlier in Tim's life when his interest turned to basketball and football.
Beckham has signed a baseball scholarship to Southern California but wants to play professional baseball. The Rays would like to get him signed as soon as possible and into their system so he can progress as rapidly as possible to the Major Leagues.
The Rays have participated in the Draft since 1996 and have selected the following players in the first round: Paul Wilder, 1996, OF, Cary (High School), N.C.; Jason Standridge, 1997, RHP, Hewitt Trussville (HS), Ala.; Hamilton, 1999, Athens Drive (HS), N.C.; Rocco Baldelli, 2000, OF, Bishop Hendricksen (HS), R.I.; B.J. Upton, 2002, SS, Greenbrier Christian Academy, Chesapeake, Va.; and Young, 2003, RF, Camarillo (HS), Calif.