On a recent broadcast of the Minor League Notebook Weekly radio show, host Tyler Hissey interviewed Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. They discussed several Rays players including Desmond Jennings, David Price, Jason Hammel, Tim Beckham, and Reid Brignac.
Tyler was kind enough to type up a transcript of the Rays-related portion of the show and send it to me. Here is Part 3 of 4, focusing on Tim Beckham (TH = Tyler Hissey, KG = Kevin Goldstein):
TH: Going back to the 2008 draft, when there wasn't a consensus number one pick like there will be with Stephen Strasburg in 2009. The Rays selected high school shortstop Tim Beckham, who the Rays are on record as saying they felt he was the legitimate top talent in the draft. There are some skeptics out there who said they selected him due to signability concerns with the demands for Pedro Alvarez and Buster Posey. Looking at your Top 100 list, you ranked Beckham behind Alvarez and Posey? If you were in the Rays' shoes, who would you have selected with that pick?
KG: Personally, I would have taken Alvarez. But I want to say that with saying I don't really have a problem with them taking Beckham. If you want to say Beckham has more upside than Alvarez, I might buy it, just because I think Beckham, if he turns out to be what I think he will be, will be a huge impact player at shortstop while Alvarez will be an impact player at third base. I think it's a defendable pick, for sure. I don't think they made a mistake by any stretch, but personally I would have taken Alvarez.
TH: Is Beckham going to be able to remain at shortstop long term?
KG: Definitely. For sure. I have never heard anything to the contrary. I am kind of surprised at the question, because I have never heard anyone say that they don't think he can be a shortstop. He has very good actions, a strong arm, smooth footwork that works very well there. I don't know anyone who has said he's not a shortstop. He's certainly a shortstop.
TH: What are you expecting out of him at Bowling Green?
KG: Those kind of young talent guys are hard to project, so you don't know what he's going to do this year. Players tend to just suddenly click. You're not sure when that light switch is going to go on. Obviously, his numbers last year weren't very good. They weren't anything to write home about. At the same time, and I think this happens because of where we are in time with the Internet and eight million people blogging, and people go, "Oh, Tim Beckham stinks, he's a bust." Historical context. Calm down. Deep breaths. Everything's going to be okay.
Go back to your history. Look at Chipper Jones' Gulf Coast League debut. Look at Derek Jeter's Gulf Coast League debut. Horrible numbers. Absolutely horrible. And no one thought they were going to be a bust, because it's just really tough going through your first time in pro ball. It's just really hard, especially if you're a teenager out of high school. It's a whole new lifestyle, a whole lot of things to adjust to. You got the wood bats everyday. Playing against teams where every kid on every team was that guy, the best player in the state. Every one of them was one of the best players, and, so it's a lot of things to consider.
I think he'll be fine. I think he'll have a very good season this year at Bowling Green, and that is where they're planning on starting him. He's going to get a full season at Low-A. I think he'll put up a very good season. I don't think you’ll quite see the power burst yet, but I do think he will hit for average. It's such a change to pro ball. It's tough to adjust. The numbers don't mean as much now at this stage. The scouts who saw him play still raved about him last summer, and I feel far more about now than anything a spreadsheet says.
Links to Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview.