Results tagged ‘ Tim Beckham ’

Fantasy Keeper Leagues – The Sell Off and the Reload

The moment it happens, you realize your team isn’t going to make that final push to the playoffs and it’s time to look forward to 2013 (and beyond) in an attempt to keep your team competitive for years to come.  It happened to me in the winter between the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and since then I have dealt Yovani Gallardo, Joey Votto, David Wright, Carlos Beltran (acquired in the Gallardo deal), and Matt Cain to acquire Brett Lawrie, Matt Moore, Manny Banuelos (who was dealt to get Michael Choice), Jean Segura, Gary Sanchez, Eric Hosmer, Shelby Miller, and Francisco Lindor (amongst others).

Below is a brief list of players you may want to consider who should be up in the next two seasons that could make a big impact on your team, and another list for players who are much, much further away.

2013/2014 Call Ups

Tyler Skaggs (ARI – LHP) – Initially drafted by the Angels in the supplemental first round of the 2009 draft (the Mike Trout draft) and dealt to the Diamondbacks in the Dan Haren trade, Skaggs has dominated at every level.  While Trevor Bauer has received all of the headlines, Skaggs has quietly dominated in his 52.2 innings, striking out 45, walking 16, and putting up a 2.91 ERA in the offense-friendly environment of the Pacific Coast League.  Skaggs may not open the year with the Diamondbacks, but, barring injury, he won’t be in the minor leagues for long.

Zack Wheeler (NYM – RHP) – The Mets got Wheeler in the Carlos Beltran deal last July and he has not disappointed (unless you’re a Giants fan).  In 116 innings for AA Binghamton, Wheeler put up a 3.26 ERA while striking out 117 across 116 innings.  Since his promotion to AAA, Wheeler has had two starts.  He allowed 2 runs in 4.2 innings in his first start, and then allowed one run over six innings in his second start.  Wheeler may open the year in Queens, especially given the Mets’ dedication to youth.

Shelby Miller (STL – RHP) – The 19th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Miller has been moving up prospect rankings every year.  After an amazing 2011 – a combined 170 strikeouts while dominating High A and AA across 139.2 innings, Miller has looked merely human lately, putting up a 5.23 ERA across 112 innings.  But that does not tell the whole story, as he has been much better as of late, causing rumors of a September call-up.  I think Keith Law’s tweets will help elucidate:

Casey Kelly (SDP – RHP) – If you think Miller’s year has been up and down, the ultra athletic Kelly’s season has been even more up and down.  After dominating in spring training, Kelly hurt his elbow after two great AAA outings.  After three tune-up outings in Rookie ball, Kelly threw five innings in AA on August 10, striking out four and facing only 16 batters.  Kelly looks like a good bet to start the 2013 in San Diego, and will benefit from playing in one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the league.

Jurickson Profar (TEX – SS) – On most teams, Profar would be getting called up now, if not a guaranteed call up in September, but the Rangers have Elvis Andrus, who is also quite good.  As far as shortstops go, Profar is the total package: smooth defense, good speed, average to plus power, and a great hit tool.  His ceiling is that of a perennial All-Star.  When does he come up?  That all depends…

Billy Hamilton (CIN – SS) – The fastest player in organized baseball presents a fascinating conundrum for the Reds’ front office.  They can bring him up for the September stretch run and use him as an extra infielder and pinch runner extraordinaire, or keep Hamilton in the minor leagues until next season.  Of course, Hamilton is more than just pure speed, after hitting 323/413/439 in the hyper-inflated offensive environment of the California League, Hamilton has hit 289/410/412 in AA.  With 139 stolen bases, Hamilton is just six behind what is believed to be the minor league record of 145, set by Vince Coleman in 1983.  When will Hamilton come up?  My guess is mid-2013, but having a pinch runner like Hamilton would cause absolute chaos in October.

Hak-Ju Lee (TBR – SS) – The main talent acquired in the Matt Garza trade, Lee shot up the prospect rankings due to his smooth defense and hitting in 2011, putting up a 318/389/443 like in the pitching-friendly High A Florida State League.  Despite a 261/336/360 line in 2012 while in AA, Lee hit better as the year wore on, putting up a 330/387/450 line in June and a 292/391/434 line in July.  Lee is also blocked by former #1 pick Tim Beckham, who is the shortstop in AAA, but Beckham is hitting 255/332/332 and was suspended for marijuana use.  While Lee is widely considered to be an above average defensive shortstop, Beckham is viewed as more of a utility infielder, significantly decreasing the chance that Lee will need to get past Beckham.

Wil Myers (KCR – OF) – After an injury limited Myers to a 254/353/393 line in 2011, Myers returned to AA to start 2012 and put up a 343/414/731 line across 35 games before being promoted to AAA, where he continued to hit, putting up a 300/377/572 line in 80 games.  While only Jeff Francoeur stands in his way, the Royals seem unwilling to bring up Myers and start his march toward arbitration during a losing season.  Expect Myers to be promoted in September, though his role may be undetermined as the season draws to a close.

Oscar Taveras (STL – OF) – After a 386/444/584 showing in A during 2011, Taveras has destroyed AA as a 20 year old in 2012, putting up a 321/382/574 line while primarily playing center field.  Though viewed as someone who will eventually need to move to right field, Taveras is widely viewed as one of the best pure hitters (if not the best pure hitter) in the minor leagues with an upside that is that of a perennial MVP candidate.  To quote Jason Parks, “His swing is going to bother scouts up the chain, and he’s also going to hit all the way up the chain. It’s not always pretty, and he swings the bat like he’s trying to kill someone breaking into his home, but it works.”

Dylan Bundy (BAL – RHP) – While Orioles fans are advocating for Dylan Bundy to be called up to help out in the bullpen in September, Bundy’s future lies as a Cy Young candidate-caliber pitcher for the next decade, becoming the next face of the Baltimore Orioles.   Of course, that is if Dan Duquette allows Bundy to use his best pitch.

Miguel Sano (MIN – 3B) – Who is leading the Midwest League in home runs, RBI, and extra base hits (ok, he’s tied)?  Miguel Sano.  Who is leading the Midwest League in walks and second in strikeouts?  Miguel Sano He turned 19 in May, he will probably end up as a right fielder, and he has 80 power (just ask Kevin Goldstein).  His power, and the Twins’ lack of talent will get him to the majors by the end of 2014, and he’ll be there to stay.

Austin Hedges (SDP – C) – I know what you’re thinking, how can a guy hitting 253/313/426 in A ball be in the major leagues in two years?  Simple – he’s the best defensive catcher current in the minors (well, of potential prospects, 35 year old veterans need not apply).  With San Diego’s pitching prospects, it may make sense to push Hedges quickly and start building trust to help San Diego compete in the future.

Anthony Rendon (WAS – 3B) – Possibly the only player who can stake a claim to the best pure hitter in the minors other than Taveras, Rendon has battled injuries since his time in college.  Recently promoted to AA, Rendon appears to be the last piece of the puzzle in Washington.  While he has exclusively played third base while in the minors (and DH’d, but that doesn’t really count), his defensive home is not assured.  Despite Rendon’s defensive acumen, Washington has gold glover Ryan Zimmerman locking down the position for nearly the next decade, so either Rendon will be shifted to first base or second base, or Zimmerman will move over to first base.  Either way, Rendon is not long for the minor leagues and figures to hit wherever his defensive home may be (and we all hope second or third, for fantasy purposes).

Project 2015, and beyond – Here is a brief list of players who won’t be up for at least two years, but, if they make the major leagues, figure to make an absolutely huge impact.

Archie Bradley (ARI – RHP) – While Skaggs and Bauer are viewed as more sure things, Bradley has the potential of being a true ace, the perpetual top of the rotation starter that opening day for a decade and, if everything goes right, starts Game 1 of the World Series.  Of course, Bradley’s potential is shown as he is second in strikeouts (the leader is 23, Bradley is 19) and his problems are shown as he leads the league in walks with 72, at 5/7 per nine innings.  But Bradley turned 20 just last week, underscoring how much time has to work on his command and unleash his fastball/curveball combination on major league hitters.

Gary Sanchez (NYY – C) – Gary Sanchez is probably the heir to the Jesus Montero crown in more ways than one – questions about his defensive future behind the plate, but a great hitting catcher whose bat will play at any position.  Of course, playing for the Yankees only serves to increase the comparisons, but Sanchez is his own player.  After being suspended by the Yankees in 2011 for poor attitude, he came back with a vengeance in 2012, hitting 297/353/517 in full season A, followed by 288/354/441 after his promotion to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League.  Sanchez’s ultimate value is related to his ability to stay behind the plate (at least enough to qualify as a catcher), but his bat should play even if he ends up as a first baseman.

Aaron Sanchez (TOR – RHP) – Part of the vaunted “Lansing Three” with Noah Syndergaard and Justin Nicolino, Sanchez has a great fastball to go with his developing curveball and changeup.  After somewhat struggling in 2011 (5.31 combined ERA in rookie and Low A ball), Sanchez has broken out in 2012, putting up a 2.36 ERA with 84 strikeouts across 76.1 innings.  While his command still needs work (5.2 walks per nine), he could be the next ace to ply his trade on the other side of the border.

Luis Heredia (PIT – RHP) – Signed out of Mexico has a 15 year old; Heredia has dominated the college-heavy New York-Penn League despite not turning 18 until August 10.  Despite not striking out that many batters (only 27 in 48.1 innings), Heredia has shown great command (2.6 walks per nine) while pitching with limited innings.  Next season should be Heredia’s first season in full-season ball, and in a season with #1 Gerrit Cole and #2 Jameson Taillon, Heredia may have the highest ceiling of them all.

Tyler Austin (NYY – OF) – in 2011, Austin began putting it together, hitting 390/438/622 in 20 games for the GCL Yankees then 323/402/542 for the Staten Island Yankees.  In 2012, Austin took the next step, hitting 320/405/598 in 70 games in full season A before being promoted to High A, where he has continued to hit, despite the pitching-friendly environment, putting up a 299/372/429 line while primarily playing right field.  Austin may become the next great slugging outfielder for the Yankees, though comparing anyone to Ruth, Dimaggio, Mantle, or Jackson is cruel, at best.  How good could Austin be?  The sky is the limit.

Francisco Lindor (CLE – SS) – Like Profar?  Then you should like Lindor too.  A switch hitter with great bat speed who is as close to a lock to stay as a shortstop as anyone else, Lindor projects to hit for a good average while hitting 15 home runs per season.  He lacks Profar’s MVP-level upside, but a shortstop who goes to the All-Star game every season is pretty valuable.

Adonys Cardona (TOR – RHP) – While his numbers have underwhelmed (4.55 ERA in 2011 and 6.32 ERA in 2012), the 6’1″ 170 pounder has the upside of a future ace and the pedigree associated with the player who received the largest bonus out of any prospects ever signed out of Venezuela, a list that includes Felix Hernandez, Johan Santana, Bobby Abreu, Carlos Gonzalez, and Jesus Montero.

Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.


P.S.  Sorry about the complete lack of posts lately, work has been incredibly busy, but I should be able to return to my normal 1-2 per week schedule for the rest of the season!

Post Hype Prospect – Casey Kelly – @IamCaseyKelly

Every once in a while an athlete so talented comes out of high school who has the natural ability to play two premium positions.  Often, those athletes are stars in multiple sports, whose natural talents and flashes of brilliance mask a lack of feel for playing baseball, with those athletes later failing to succeed at any level due to an ability to turn those physical tools into baseball playing ability.  Out of Sarasota High School in Sarasota, Florida, one of those athletes was the 2008 first round pick (#30 overall) of the Boston Red Sox, Casey Kelly.  Kelly was viewed as a top prospect both as a shortstop and a pitcher, along with being a good enough quarterback to get a scholarship offer from the University of Tennessee.  Video of Kelly’s reaction to being drafted:

Kelly, who was named Mr. Baseball Florida for 2008, quickly signed with the Red Sox, agreeing to a $3 million signing bonus, the seventh largest in the 2008 draft class, behind only Buster Posey (#5/Giants), Tim Beckham (#1/Rays), Pedro Alvarez (#2/Pirates), Eric Hosmer (#3/Royals), Justin Smoak (#11/Rangers), and Brian Matusz (#4/Orioles).  Kelly was sent to the Rookie Level GCL Red Sox, where he played shortstop and hit poorly, putting up a 215/255/331 line in 36 games before being promoted to the Short Season A Lowell Spinners of the New York Penn League, where he played shortstop and hit well, putting up a 344/344/563 line.  Despite the poor showing, Kelly was still viewed as an elite prospect, with Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus calling Kelly “the most talented two-way player available in the draft,” while raving about Kelly’s power potential, good defensive range and instincts, and plus-plus (70 on the 20-80 scale) arm.  Goldstein dinged Kelly for his tendency to chase pitches and generally unrefined game.  Goldstein ranked Kelly #6 in the Red Sox system.  Baseball America generally agreed, expressing similar concerns and ranked Kelly the #6 prospect in the Red Sox system, naming Kelly as the pitcher with the “Best Curveball” in the Red Sox’s organization.

For 2009, the Red Sox struck a deal with Kelly.  The Red Sox wanted Kelly to solely focus on being a pitcher while Kelly preferred to play every day and remain a shortstop.  Kelly would be a pitcher for approximately half of the season and then play shortstop for the duration of the season.  After the season, there would be a discussion between the Red Sox and Kelly regarding Kelly’s future based upon potential and results.  Kelly was assigned to the Greenville Drive of the A Level South Atlantic League, where he absolutely dominated, putting up a 1.12 ERA over 9 starts and 48.1 innings, striking out 39 batters while slowing 32 hits and walking only nine batters.  After being named to the South Atlantic League All-Star Team, Kelly was promoted to the High A Salem Red Sox of the Carolina League, Kelly continued to excel, putting up a 3.09 ERA over 8 starts and 46.2 innings, striking out 35 while allowing 33 hits and only seven walks.  At this point, Kelly became a shortstop, putting up a 214/290/464 line while back in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League and a putrid 224/305/313 line while playing for the Greenville Drive of the South Atlantic League.  During the 2009 season, Kelly also appeared in the Futures Game for the United States team, pitching one inning and allowing no base runners on nine pitches, six of them strikes.

After the 2009 season, Kelly drew rave reviews for his pitching and was named the Boston Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year.  Baseball America ranked Kelly the #2 prospect in the Red Sox’s system (behind Ryan Westmoreland) and the #24 prospect in all of Baseball.  Baseball America named Kelly the pitcher in the Red Sox’s organization with the “Best Fastball,” “Best Curveball,” “Best Changeup,” and “Best Control;” also naming Kelly the #6 prospect in the Carolina League and  the #2 prospect in the South Atlantic League.  Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein generally agreed with Baseball America, ranking Kelly the #2 prospect in the Red Sox’s system (behind Westmoreland) and the #30 prospect in all of Baseball.  Goldstein commented how advanced Kelly was as a pitcher, with “excellent sink and run” on an 89-93 mile per hour fastball, an already “plus” curveball, and a developing changeup that looked like it would become a plus offering.  Additionally, Goldstein noted Kelly’s athleticism and his “smooth, repeatable, and effortless” delivery.  After the season, it was agreed that Kelly would no longer play shortstop and would focus his energy on becoming a pitcher full-time.

Kelly pitching in the Futures Game:

In 2010, Kelly appeared in two spring training games for the Red Sox, putting up a 3.60 ERA across five innings in his first appearance against big league hitters.  Below is video of Kelly pitching against Northeastern University:

For the 2010 season, Kelly was aggressively assigned to the Portland Sea Dogs of the AA Eastern League, where Kelly struggled significantly, putting up a 5.31 ERA across 95 innings in 21 starts, averaging under 4.2 innings per start.  Kelly allowed 118 hits (11.2/9) and walked 35 batters (3.3/9) for a 1.611 WHIP while striking out 81 batters (7.7/9).  While Kelly struggled, he showed flashes of his enormous potential and had a few good outings, including a three-start run from July 11 through July 21, where he totaled 15 strikeouts in 17.2 innings, allowing 19 hits and only walking four batters while putting up a 2.55 ERA.  Kelly was shut down for the month of August after straining the Latissimus Dorsi in his back.

Source: Wikipedia

After the season, Kelly went to the Arizona Fall League to pick up some extra starts.  Kelly pitched 16 innings across four starts in the extremely hitter-friendly AFL, putting up a 6.75 ERA that was heavily colored by one particularly bad start on October 25.  Kelly put up a 2.57 ERA in his other three starts, showcasing his talent against much older competition.  After the season, Kelly was the key piece to Boston’s acquisition of slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, going to San Diego along with Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes, and Eric Patterson.

After the trade, Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein ranked Kelly the #1 prospect in the San Diego Padres’ organization and #48 in all of baseball, stating that Kelly “shows the potential for three average to plus pitches to go with plus command and control,” but that Kelly was “in over his head at Double-A” in 2010 and needs to be more aggressive with his pitching.  Baseball America Ranked Kelly the #1 prospect in the Padres’ organization and #31 prospect in baseball, naming Kelly the pitcher in the Padres’ organization with the “Best Curveball.”  Due to the timing of the trade, Kelly was also rated to have the “Best Curveball” in the Red Sox organization, as the Red Sox’s ranking came out prior to the trade, but the Padres’ ranking came out after the trade.

In 2011, Kelly was invited to the Padres’ spring training as a non-roster invitee with the expectation that he would open the season in the minor leagues after a view into the life of a Major Leaguer and a full welcoming to the San Diego Padres’ organization.  While in the Padres camp Kelly put up a respectable 3.00 ERA in 9 innings and 4 appearances, with one start.

Kelly was assigned to the San Antonio Missions for the 2011 season, back in AA but now in the Texas League.  Kelly’s results improved considerably, putting up a 3.98 ERA across 27 starts over 142.2 innings, striking out 105 (6.6/9) while allowing 153 hits (9.7/9) and 46 walks (2.9/9) for a 1.398 WHIP.  After the season, Baseball America ranked Kelly the #3 prospect in the Padres’ organization (behind Anthony Rizzo and Rymer Liriano) and the #76 prospect in baseball.  Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein echoed BA’s drop, ranking Kelly the #7 prospect in the Padres’ organization and the #78 prospect in baseball.  Goldstein expressed concern regarding Kelly’s lack of development and downgrading Kelly’s potential from a #2 or #3 to a #3 or a #4 in a rotation.

Back in the Padres’ spring training camp for 2012, Kelly looked like a new pitcher, putting up a 1.74 ERA across 20.2 innings while striking out 18 and only walking two, while drawing rave reviews  On March 14, Kelly threw three shutout innings against the Cincinnati Reds, giving up five hits and striking out four without walking a single batter.  In his first two starts, Kelly threw five shutout innings without giving up a walk, fanning six.  Kelly’s performance continued when he was assigned to the Tuscon Padres, the Padres’ AAA affiliate in the Pacific Coast League.  In his first two starts, Kelly went six innings in both games.  In the first game, Kelly allowed seven hits and three runs, striking out five.  In his second start, Kelly allowed five hits and zero runs, striking out nine while hitting one batter.  Prior to his third start Kelly experienced soreness in his right elbow and traveled to San Diego to have Padres’ team doctors perform an examination and get an MRI.  Padres’ manager Bud Black said that there was no structural damage and Kelly merely had inflammation around the elbow.  The Padres were going to be cautious and give Kelly a few weeks of rest before starting a throwing program to see how the elbow would respond, before even thinking about returning Kelly to Tuscon.  As the North County Times has reported,  Kelly, who was shut down with arm problems after two starts at Double-A San Antonio, has resumed throwing.

So what is going to come of Kelly?  2012 had become a “make or break” year for Kelly, as he needed to finally justify his draft status and bonus at a level above A-ball, which he was finally doing before he hurt his elbow.  Currently resting his elbow, Kelly should start playing catch soon, but having no news for more than two weeks after being “close” is worrisome.   Kelly could be the perfect #2 pitcher to slot behind an ace (or be the ace on most teams), but an injury would set him back significantly, not to even discuss potentially ending his status as an elite prospect and moving him to the “let’s see where he is in two years” group.  As it looks, Kelly will be back in AAA shortly, with a possible September call-up in the works.  What do we expect?  I would say Kelly is a pretty good bet to be a rotation mainstay for a long time, but TINSTAAPP.

Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.


Post-Hype Prospect: Tim Beckham

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 ProspectusKevin 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.


Post Hype Prospect – Matt Bush

In the history of #1 draft picks, only six have not yet played in the Major Leagues.  They are Steve Chilcott (I’ll get to him, I swear) in 1966, Brien Taylor in 1991, Matt Bush in 2004, Tim Beckham in 2008, Bryce Harper in 2010, and Gerrit Cole in 2011.  Beckham is 22 in AA, Harper is 19 in AAA, and Cole is 21 in high A; all three appear to be on their way to making it to the majors in the next few seasons, leaving us with three players, Chilcott, Taylor, and Bush, who will not make it to the majors.  For a little bit in 2011 and during spring training in 2012, it looked possible that it would only be Chilcott and Taylor in the club but, due to recent actions, it looks like Matt Bush may make the undesirable duo into a trio.

The first high school short stop taken with the #1 overall pick since Alex Rodriguez in 1993, Matt Bush was an unpopular pick from the start.  Widely viewed as a fringe top 10 talent, Bush had two things going for him: he attended Mission Bay High School in San Diego and he told the Padres he would sign quickly and for less money than many of the more highly ranked players.  Bush ended up signing for $3.15 million, less than Jered Weaver ($4m at #12 to the Angels) and Stephen Drew ($4m at #15 to the Diamondbacks) and immediately found it necessary to begin making idiotic decisions.  On June 20, mere weeks after being drafted and signing a contract, Bush was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault, trespass, disorderly conduct, and underage drinking.  Bush was charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors, and was suspended by the Padres.  After the felony charges being dropped and a deal being agreed upon regarding the misdemeanors, Bush’s suspension was lifted and Matt Bush properly began his professional career. Things did not get much better for Bush once he began playing baseball, putting up a putrid 181/302/236 line in 21 games for the Arizona League AZL Padres, the Padres’ Rookie level affiliate, followed by a 222/276/296 line in 8 games for the Northwest League Eugene Emeralds, the Padres’ Low A affiliate.

After the season, Bush’s talent and performance failed to impress the pundits.  In Baseball America’s top 100 Prospects for 2005, 11 2004 draftees made the list but Bush was not one of them.  Bush’s 2005 season was not much better: a 221/279/276 line while playing for the Fort Wayne Wizards, the Padres A level affiliate in the Midwest League.  After not being ranked in the Baseball America top 100 (you may sense a trend), Bush broke his ankle during spring training and missed half of the season, putting up a 268/333/310 line in 21 games once he returned to the Fort Wayne Wizards.

In 2007, Bush was hitting 204/310/276 for the Lake Elsinore Storm in the hitting friendly high A California League before the Padres decided to try to make Bush into a pitcher.   After six appearances for the AZL Padres across 7.1 innings where Bush struck out 16 (19.6 K/9), walked two, and allowed five hits while frequently throwing mid-to-upper 90s fastballs, including hitting 98 many times.   Bush was promoted to the Fort Wayne Wizards, where he faced one batter before feeling pain in his pitching elbow.  After medical tests showed a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, Bush was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery.  Bush missed the rest of 2007 and all of 2008.  Despite all of this, Bush remained on the 40-man roster, thereby protecting him from the Rule IV draft.

In early February 2009, Bush committed a drunken assault on a number of boys’ lacrosse players at Granite Hills High in El Cajon, California after a drunken altercation.  The details are best told by Brent Schrotenboer of the U-T San Diego:

A witness, who requested his name not be used because of the ongoing police investigation, said Bush was drunk, threw a golf club into the dirt, picked up and threw a freshman lacrosse player and hit another one. Bush also yelled “I’m Matt (expletive) Bush,” and “(expletive) East County,” before driving over a curb in his Mercedes when leaving the campus, according to the witness.

To put it mildly, the Padres’ management was nonplussed.  Bush was removed from the 40-man roster and dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays for either a player to be named later or cash considerations.  On April 1, 2009, Bush was released by the Blue Jays for violating their zero tolerance behavioral policy.

But Matt Bush’s upper 90s heat was too intriguing to ignore, and he signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays in January 2010.  After 5.1 innings (allowing 1 run and two hits while striking out eight batters) for the Rookie level GCL Rays, Bush was promoted to the High A Charlotte Stone Crabs, where he pitched 8.1 innings (allowing four runs, seven hits, and striking out 12).  Bush was sent to the Ray’s AA affiliate in the Southern League, the awesomely-named Montgomery Biscuits, where he pitched 50.1 innings, striking out 77, allowing only 48 hits, and posting a 4.83 ERA.

Still only 25, many pundits felt that Bush could become a dynamic late-inning reliever with his upper 90s fastball and devastating two-plane slider.  Logically, this is when Matt Bush reminded the world that he is still Matt (expletive) Bush.  After borrowing the SUV of teammate Brandon Guyer (who was unaware that Bush did not have a driver license), Bush (allegedly) hit a 72-year-old motorcyclist, running over the motorcyclist’s head while fleeing the scene.  Bush was arrested and charged with fleeing the scene with serious injuries, driving with a suspended license with serious injuries, DUI with serious injuries, and DUI with property damage.  Earlier in the day, Bush caused two other, separate, accidents.  Bush struck a pole (though details are unavailable as to the nature of the pole), then struck a Jeep Cherokee in Guyer’s Dodge Durango, damaging the Jeep but the two people in the Jeep were not harmed.  After his arrest, Bush’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) was an amazing 0.18, or more than twice the 0.08 BAC limit in California.

As of this point, Bush has not yet been released, but it seems likely that he will be released (unless, of course, the Tampa Bay Rays organization fails to do anything, as he may form the only felon duo in modern baseball with Josh Lueke).

But what happened with Matt Bush?  Frankly, I think Matt Bush happened to Matt Bush.  A player with amazing talent, Bush seemingly got in his own way as often as possible.  It appears that he has a drinking problem, which can only adversely impact performance, and his oversized ego poses another problem, especially when coupled with his general lack of elite performance.  In the end, Bush shouldn’t have been picked #1 overall.  If Baseball Reference’s WAR is to be used, either Justin Verlander or Jered Weaver would have been the best picks, with Dustin Pedroia coming in third, and even 45th rounder Tony Sipp ranking a significantly better choice.  In the end, the Padres’ unwillingness to pay an extra $2 million cost them significantly more down the road, and Bush’s boorish behavior will probably cost him a chance at living the dream.

Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect!


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