MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at Pittsburgh PiratesFor a while it was beginning to look like Tim Beckham would never make it to the majors. But now, in his sixth season as a pro, Beckham is knocking on the door and he almost certainly be in a Rays uniform as early as Sunday when the Rays can expand their roster.

Beckham, the top pick of the 2008 draft, still doesn’t have great offensive numbers, hitting .283 with a .345 OBP and 17 stolen bases. He is also still somewhat error-prone, with 24 errors this season.

But Beckham has four big factors working in his favor:

  1. The Rays could use another middle infielder. Yunel Escobar is the only true shortstop on the team. While both Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez can play shortstop, neither is ideal. When Zobrist plays shortstop, all that does is create a hole someplace else. And Rodriguez should only be in the game if a lefty is on the mound. Beckham would give Maddon another true shortstop as well as the added flexibility of also being able to play second base. In addition, while Beckham does hit lefties better than righties, his OBP is almost evenly split (.344 vs LHP, .345 vs RHP).
  2. Beckham is already on the 40-man roster. For those of you that don’t follow the overly-complex roster rules of MLB that closely, teams have a 25-man active roster and a 40-man roster. The 40-man roster is typically the 25 guys in the big leagues and 15 other players in the minors (players on the 60-day DL do not count towards 40-man total). Teams can increase their roster in September and anybody that is on the 40-man roster can be in the big leagues after September 1st. If Beckham was not on the 40-man roster, he certainly could be added. But that would come at the cost of having to cut somebody off the 40-man roster and exposing them to waivers. Since Beckham is already on the 40-man roster, there is no risk to adding him to the big league roster next week.
  3. Brutal Schedule. The Rays are about to begin a big 10-game west coast road trip with no off-days. Maddon is going to want some extra arms in the bullpen and a couple of extra bats on the bench, including an outfielder (Brandon Guyer?), a catcher (Chris Gimenez) and an infielder. Beckham is the only available infielder on the 40-man roster. The Rays could potentially bring back Ryan Roberts, but he is not on the 40-man roster and somebody would have to be cut.
  4. Beckham is suddenly playing with confidence. This is less scientific, but his numbers have steadily improved all season, and it just looks like Beckham finally believes he belongs in the big leagues and has the confidence to get there. Of course, everybody plays with more confidence when they are playing well, so this is a chicken-or-egg scenario. But Maddon is just as big on personality as he is on splits. And you can be sure that Maddon has watched tape of Beckham and noticed the little extra snap in the bat and the little extra speed in the step.

The one factor working against Beckham is that the Durham Bulls start a first round playoff series next week. Pulling Beckham up on Sunday (or Monday in L.A.) would certainly hurt the Bulls roster. So when Beckham is called up depends on how important the Rays think he is for the roster.

If there is a feeling that Beckham can improve the team, he will be up on Monday. If the Rays think Beckham’s only benefit would be some late-inning roster flexibility or to give other guys rest, they may wait. Also, if the Rays think a reliever like Jeff Beliveau won’t help in September they can cut him off the 40-man roster and add Roberts.

Either way, Beckham is going to join the Rays soon and it could be as early as Sunday.



  1. rome says:

    O'Mally could come up in Beckham's stead. Also, both Figuroa and Fontenot have seen time at shortstop this year in Durham. I would imagine that maybe a guy like O'Mally who has AAA experience would move rather then playing Fontenot or Figuroa at short longer then a sport start.

  2. Sublime says:

    I hope T. Beckham gets called up, playing with the big club would be quite an accomplishment for a player whom critics have said would never see the big leagues!

  3. Gus says:

    Cork was plugged in on Hernandez's destiny to be in the rotation, so I trust his instincts here, but short of Beckham assuming the Fernando Perez 2008 role (pinch runner, defensive replacement), hard to see much use for him in the bigs this season (with the caveat that I haven't seen him play since the spring, when I saw him 3 times and he looked like an average utility player).

    If you really were developing the kid, you'd play him in the AAA playoffs at SS rather than have him play a handful of big league innings as a substitute.

    If you think he's not going to make it and want to call him up so you aren't a trivia question (which organizations' No. 1 overall draft picks never played in the bigs with them?), develop another SS at Durham and then part ways in the winter, this would certainly be your move.

    • OriginalTom says:

      Josh Hamilton, Matt Bush, and Brien Taylor among others are answers to that trivia question. It happens more often than you think.

  4. Chris says:

    Sound analysis of the situation. Thanks.

  5. Sublime says:

    In the other thread your were criticizing his lack of power, Rays need some young (field) players to come out of their system and make it into the bigs. Plus, he was in the playoffs in AAA last year, being on the Big Club could do wonders for his already budding confidence.

  6. Sarah says:

    Didn't he get a brief call up last September? I could swear i'd seen him play with the big team -- maybe I'm confusing that with Spring Training.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Nope, no regular season games. Played a lot in the spring. He was actually added to the 40-man roster for the first time last November. But yeah, it's been so long, feels like it should have happened by now.

  7. Burn H. says:

    So if all this happens, What are we going to do with D. Young? He needs to be up by Sat. 11:59 to make the play-off roster, right?


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