Results tagged ‘ david price ’
Earlier this week, Tim Beckham, the shortstop prospect for the Tampa Bay Rays was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball. Prior to this, Beckham has had an up-and-down ride that started with being the first overall pick in the 2008 draft.
Viewed as the best athlete with the best all-around set of tools who projected as a shortstop with power and speed, Beckham was taken first overall by the Tampa Bay Rays. Beckham signed for $6.15 million just two weeks after being picked and was assigned to the Princeton Rays, the Rays’ Rookie League affiliate in the Appalachian League. Beckham did not perform particularly well, putting up a 243/297/345 line and committing 13 errors in 171 chances at shortstop. Beckham also appeared in two games for the Hudson Valley Renegades (who play in the awesomely named Wappingers Falls, New York; where I once saw Peter Frampton play).
Nevertheless, prospect prognosticators were bullish on Beckham’s future. Baseball Prospectus‘ Kevin Goldstein ranked him #2 in the Rays system (behind David Price) and #15 overall (behind Giancarlo – then Mike – Stanton), and said that:
Beckham is the total package, and he’s drawn multiple comparisons to former MVP Barry Larkin. He has a good approach, excellent bat speed, projects for at least average power, and has plus speed. He’s a fluid defender with range, soft hands, and a strong arm.
Baseball America agreed, ranking Beckham #2 in the Rays system (again behind Price) and #28 overall (behind Matt LaPorta), and went even further, naming Beckham the “Best Hitter for Average” in the Rays system after the 2008 season.
Beckham was assigned to the A-level Bowling Green Hot Rods for the 2009 season and put up a 275/328/389 line while making 43 (!!!) errors at shortstop. Beckham was dinged accordingly, as Baseball America dropped him to the #6 prospect in the Rays organization and #67 prospect in all of baseball, though they did rate Beckham as having the “Best Infield Arm” in the Rays’ organization. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus dropped Beckham comparably, dropping him to #6 in the Rays system (taking him down from a 5-star to a 4-star prospect), stating that Beckham was “less refined than expected” and “far too aggressive at the plate.” Goldstein ranked Beckham #56 overall (between Dan Hudson and Scott Sizemore) in his Top 101.
In 2010, Beckham failed to impress for a third straight year, putting up a 256/346/359 line while playing for the Charlotte Stone Crabs of the High A Florida State League. While Beckham’s walk rate increased, causing an increase in OBP despite a drop in batting average, he struggled at bat and in the field, making 25 errors while playing shortstop. Though scouts still saw the tools, Beckham was failing to actualize and his prospect status was dropping precipitously. Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein ranked Beckham the #18 prospect in the Rays’ system and took him off the Top 101 entirely. Baseball America responded in a consistent manner, ranking Beckham #15 in the Rays system and not ranking him in their Top 100. Some pundits went even further, with Matthew Pouliot of NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk noting that Beckham has not excelled at any point, and that it is becoming less likely that he will play shortstop in the Major Leagues.
2011 started off poorly for Beckham, as the Rays made a deal with the Cubs in January, sending Matt Garza with Zach Rosscup and Fernando Perez to Chicago for Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, Robinson Chirinos, Sam Fuld, and Brandon Guyer. Hak-Ju Lee, a Korean-born shortstop noted for his defensive prowess, was viewed as the shortstop of the future in the Rays organization as very little was expected from Beckham. Beckham was assigned to play for the Montgomery Biscuits of the AA Southern League, with Lee playing for the Charlotte Stone Crabs in High A. For the first time, Beckham produced, putting up a 275/339/395 line across 107 games while showing improved defense at shortstop (despite the 20 errors), earning an August promotion to the AAA Durham Bulls of the International League. Beckham showed impressive power and a complete lack of plate discipline while playing for the Bulls, putting up a 255/282/462 line. Tim Beckham as a prospect was back. Beckham was bumped up to the #7 prospect in the Rays’ system by Baseball America and #9 by Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. Jonathan Mayo of MLB showed faith in Beckham, ranking him the #91 overall prospect, stating that Beckham “[swung] a good bat across two levels,” the “power has started to come,” and he “made very good strides with his defense.”
Lee, however, was more impressive. After being ranked the #92 prospect by Baseball America and #65 overall by Baseball, Lee put up a robust 318/389/44 line over 97 games at Charlotte with scouts raving about his defense. When Beckham was promoted to AAA, Lee was promoted to AA, where he struggled with a 190/272/310 line across the final 24 games of the season. After the season, Lee was ranked the #44 prospect by Baseball America and #65 overall by Baseball Prospectus (additionally, ESPN’s Keith Law rated him #12 and MLB’s Jonathan Mayo rated him #46), putting him solidly on the upper echelon of prospects.
But what would this mean for Tim Beckham’s future? As it turned out, not a whole lot for the beginning of 2012. Beckham was sent back to AAA Durham and Lee was sent to AA Charlotte, with both struggling in the first few weeks, with Beckham putting up a putrid 204/290/278 line and Lee putting up a lackluster 243/306/333 line.
On Tuesday evening, Major League Baseball issued the following press release:
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that Tampa Bay Rays Minor League shortstop Tim Beckham has received a 50-game suspension after a second violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a drug of abuse.
The suspension of Beckham, who is currently on the roster of the Triple-A Durham Bulls of the International League, will be effective immediately.
What does this mean for Beckham? The most important thing to mention is that this was not steroids or amphetamines, as Beckham was not taking a drug to improve his performance. The second thing to mention is that this is Beckham’s second time testing positive for marijuana (as was specifically identified in the Rays’ Press Release). In the Press Release, Beckham stated:
“I regret that my poor judgment resulted in me letting my teammates and the Tampa Bay Rays organization down. I take full responsibility for my actions and 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 am sorry.”
Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman said:
“We are very disappointed by Tim’s actions. Tim possesses great potential, and he must rededicate himself in order to become the person and player we know he can be.”
The actions taken by a team in this situation is often directly related to the player’s status and future. The options are:
(1) Nothing. Allow the player to serve the suspension and return to the team.
(2) Immediate release.
(3) Demote or otherwise punish the player.
What will happen to Tim Beckham? This isn’t a situation similar to the Pittsburgh Drug Trials in the 1980′s, and will not have any substantial impact on professional baseball, or any sport whatsoever. Judging from Beckham’s contrite commends and Friedman’s statement, the Rays will do nothing. Beckham will merely serve his suspension and return to his job as the starting shortstop for the Durham Bulls. A knee-jerk release or other punishment could further stunt Beckham’s development, something teams rarely do to players in which they have invested in excess of $6 million.
What will be Beckham’s future? Beckham has all of the tools to be either a shortstop in the Major Leagues, a tiny subset of all players at any level in the minors, and is still only 22 years old. While he may spend time as a shortstop in the Major Leagues, I believe Beckham will never be more than a decent second baseman with a little bit of power and a few stolen bases. His defense will never be much above average and he may only end up as a utility infielder – hardly the goal of a team picking #1 overall.
Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.
Colby Rasmus has been as controversial player as there is in the major leagues over the past few years (without committing a crime). An ultra-talented center fielder with plus power, great range, and a canon throwing arm, Rasmus has the potential to be the next great player. After a great 2010, Rasmus seemingly took a few steps back in his development, followed by a trade from St. Louis to Toronto.
Born in Columbus, Georgia, Rasmus moved to Phenix City, Alabama when he was young. In Phenix City, Rasmus was a star pitcher and first baseman in Little League, leading his Phenix City Little League team to the finals of the 1999 Little League World Series, losing to Hirakata (Japan) Little League in the finals.
After a great career at Russell County High School in Seale, Alabama, Rasmus was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 2005 MLB draft, #28 overall. A number of very good players were selected prior to Rasmus, including Justin Upton (Arizona, 1st round/1st pick), Ryan Zimmerman (Washington, 1/4), Ryan Braun (Milwaukee, 1/5), Ricky Romero (Toronto, 1/6), Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado, 1/7), Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh, 1/11), Jacoby Ellsbury (1/23), and Matt Garza (Minnesota, 1/25). Rasmus signed for $1 million and was assigned to the Johnson City Cardinals, the Cardinals Rookie Level affiliate in the Appalachian League. Rasmus put up an impressive 296/362/514 line in 62 games in Johnson City.
In 2006, Rasmus who not ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100, was assigned to the Swing of the Quad Cities, the Cardinals’ A-level Midwest League affiliate, where he excelled. Rasmus was putting up a 310/373/512 line across 78 games for Quad Cities, when he was promoted to the Palm Beach Cardinals, the Cardinals’ High A affiliate in the Florida State League. In the notoriously pitcher-friendly Florida State League, Rasmus displayed power with a mature approach, putting up a 254/351/404 line as second youngest player in the Florida State League.
As a result of his excellent 2006 season, Rasmus’ stock skyrocketed, as Baseball America ranked him the #29 prospect, but Rasmus’ talent had only started to shine through. In 2007, Rasmus spent the year playing for the Springfield Cardinals of the AA Texas League, putting up a 275/381/551 line, showing significant development of his power with 37 doubles, 3 triples, and 29 home runs. Tulsa Drillers’ Manager, Stu Cole waxed poetic in discussing Rasmus’ ability:
“If there was a five-tool player in the league last year, Rasmus was the one. He brought everything to the table. If the ball was in the air, there was a chance you were going to see something exciting.”
In December 2007, the Cardinals dealt incumbent center fielder Jim Edmonds to the San Diego Padres for David Freese, clearing the way for Rasmus. Rasmus was ranked the #5 prospect by Baseball America (behind Jay Bruce, Evan Longoria, Joba Chamberlain, and Clay Buchholz), and prospect prognosticators praised his power, plate discipline, range in centerfield, and cannon throwing arm. Rasmus was invited to spring training and played reasonably well, but was sent to the Pacific Coast League’s Memphis Redbirds, where he immediately went into a deep offensive funk, hitting .186 through his first 172 at bats. Rasmus ended up with a respectable 251/346/396 line in 90 games for the Redbirds, missing time with a knee injury. Presciently, comments attached to his father, Tony, a former minor leaguer in the then-California Angels system, emerged, showing Tony’s disagreement with the actions of the Cardinals. Tony stated that the Cardinals were trying to alter Rasmus’ swing, publicly displaying a rift between the Rasmus family and the Cardinals.
Despite the lackluster season and the injury, Rasmus’ solid showing after the slow start and potential convinced Baseball America to rank him the #3 prospect, behind Matt Wieters and David Price. The Cardinals requested that Rasmus play winter ball to get additional at bats to get ready for the season, but Rasmus declined. Rasmus, apparently having never seen Crash Davis’ conversations with Nuke LaLoosh, reported to spring training asserting that he would go north with the Cardinals and could be the teams center fielder, irking a number of veterans including Rick Ankiel and Chris Duncan.
On Opening Day, Rasmus batted second and played right field (Ankiel was in center) and made a great debut – going 2/4 with a walk in his major league debut in the Cardinals’ 9-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rasmus put up a solid 251/307/407 line in 2009, starting 104 games in centerfield while only starting 10 in left field and right field. Rasmus placed eighth in the Rookie of the Year Award vote (Chris Coghlan won) and was the inspiration for one of the greatest YouTube videos of all time:
Rasmus came into 2010 hoping to build on 2009 and exceeded expectations, putting up a 276/361/498 (132 OPS+) line. Rasmus began 2011 crushing the ball. After a 3/5 day against the Cubs on May 12, Rasmus goes into a tailspin, putting up a 194/282/377 line across 57 games until his late July trade to the Toronto Blue Jays. In early July, Cardinals’ Manager Tony La Russa said that “[w]hat [Rasmus is] working on is something that he thinks will help him and it comes from someplace else.” That “someplace else” was Rasmus’ father, Tony. While La Russa said that “it’s not unusual” for a player to seek familiar coaching, it was unusual to totally exclude the hitting instruction provided by the team, in this case Hitting Coach Mark McGwire.
The war of word continued between La Russa and Rasmus, culminating in a trade on July 27 with Trevor Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters for Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson, Corey Patterson, and Marc Rzepczynski. Both sides seemed pleased with the deal, the Blue Jays picked up the ultra-talented Rasmus and the Cardinals picked up two solid bullpen arms, a starter, and a backup outfielder. It was the ultimate “change of scenery” trade.
While there is still a lot of time before we can fully judge the trade, it appears that St. Louis did much better than initially perceived. Rasmus put up a terrible 173/201/316 (37 OPS+) line over the final 35 games in the season, and has a 200/256/343 line (small sample size alert!) through 10 games in 2012. The Cardinals, however, caught fire after the trade, winning the Wild Card on the last day of the season and winning one of the most exciting World Series in recent memory.
How do we evaluate Rasmus? He’s still (somehow) only 25 and loaded with talent. Though reports have indicated decreased range, he still has the tools to be a middle-of-the-order hitter and center fielder. But how did Rasmus get here? Has he failed to actualize his talents? Are his father’s attempts to help hurting him? Is there another factor that is causing problems? No one seems to be quite sure – if anyone knew the problem they would be able to solve the problem. In the end Rasmus may figure it out and reach his potential or he make it onto the long list of ultra-talented players who had initial success in the Major Leagues but were unable to make the necessary adjustments.
Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.