It took almost six years, but for the first time on September 19th, 2013, Tampa Bay Rays shortstop and former first overall pick Tim Beckham made his major league debut at the age of 23. Beckham, once a highly touted shortstop from Griffin High School in Georgia, made the most out of his major league debut, tapping a single in a pinch-hit spot for Matt Joyce. Although the Rays lost the game to the Texas Rangers, 8-2, Beckham certainly had to feel good about finally breaking through after nearly half a decade of minor league toil.
Beckham came from what can now be considered one of the better draft classes for hitters in history, being drafted ahead of the likes of Pedro Alvarez, Buster Posey, Jason Castro, and Jason Kipnis, among others. Because he was a high schooler, it was naturally assumed that Beckham would have to wait a few years before his time came. However, nobody expected him to take that long.
A combination of growing pains, drug suspensions, and a dearth of talent at the shortstop position ultimately led to Beckham’s prolonged minor league career.
Although Beckham’s development went the typical route in his early minor league career (by 2010, he had made it to the High-A level), it was his time in AAA which took the longest. Beckham played for the Durham Bulls from the latter half of 2011-2013. Although he had a reasonable start to his AAA career with a modest .256/5/13 triple crown line, his development was halted in 2012 when he was suspended in violation of MLB’s drug agreement. It was Beckham’s second suspension. Despite his growing pains and drug problem, Tampa Bay must have seen something in him, as they added him to the 40 man roster in preparation for the following season. In addition, Beckham once again put up pedestrian numbers, with a .256/6/28 crown line.
This season was Beckham’s first full season in Triple-A, and he had plenty to show. Hitting a far more respectable .276, Beckham’s power dipped slightly as he only hit four home runs, but he did add 51 RBI.
Beckham’s debut shows that he could still be an interesting player to watch, and that there may still be a decent career in him. He certainly met the first of many expectations on Friday by making his big league debut, since the common draft era, only three first overall picks have never made the big leagues, catcher Steve Chilcott in 1966, pitcher Brien Taylor in 1991, and shortstop/pitcher Matt Bush in 2004, with an additional two having just started their pro careers in Carlos Correa (2012) and Mark Appel (2013).
The expectation for next year is that Beckham will have finally outgrown Triple-A. In all likelihood, if the Rays deem him ready, Yunel Escobar will likely be moved to another team and Beckham will be given every opportunity in the spring to prove that he can cement the position.
With Tim Beckham finally making his debut, the Class of 2008 has 26 of the 30 first round picks (not including the compensatory picks) play at least one major league game. The only players who have yet to make their major league debuts are as follows:
New York Mets shortstop Reese Havens (Currently in AAA Las Vegas)
New York Mets (Originally San Diego Padres) first baseman Allan Dykstra (Currently in AA Binghamton)
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Anthony Hewitt (Currently in AA Reading)
Chicago Cubs (Originally Minnesota Twins) pitcher Carlos Gutierrez (Highest level was AAA Rochester, currently in AA Tennessee)
There is a small chance that this could be the first first round class to have all the first round picks (not including the compensatory round) play at least one major league game. In order for that to happen, the above players mentioned need to have monster minor league seasons and hope to have their contributions recognized by their parent clubs. Havens, Dykstra, and Gutierrez all are in the 26-27 year threshold, which means that while they will not likely enjoy long careers, they still could carve out decent supporting roles. Given Gutierrez is a pitcher, his capacity could be as a reliever, and given that relievers are technically open to making their debuts at any time in their baseball careers, even in their late 30’s. he could be next. As for Hewitt, although he did come out of high school, he stands the lowest chance of making the big leagues. Many have already labeled him a bust and a reach since he came out of Salisbury. Considering he is a full 2-3 years younger than his fellow draft mates, he still falls in the fringe prospect category, meaning he still has time to make a meaningful impact.
Prospect junkies should keep a close eye on these four players next year. It will be interesting to see if the 2008 class can do what 43 classes before them couldn’t do.
All-Star voting ends in six days, and with the National League starting lineup still unclear, there’s been plenty of jostling. The San Francisco monopoly was broken when Yadier Molina overtook Buster Posey and David Wright passed Pablo Sandoval to lead their respective positions. Meanwhile, the outfield, as of right now, looks to consist of Carlos Beltran, Justin Upton, and Bryce Harper, although Harper is injured right now, and may pull out so that he can return to the Nationals fully healthy. This leads me to the focus of this article.
Yasiel Puig has taken Major League Baseball by storm so far, hitting .435 with 7 home runs and 14 RBI. He’s become ESPN’s latest media darling, and many have campaigned that he should be on the All-star team, whether as a starter or as a reserve.
I’m not one of those people.
Puig, while great, does not deserve the honor of being on the roster. I point this out because his stats are over the course of one month, and the last time I checked, one month of play does not give you an All-star nod, unless you’re in a short season league.
Puig may look like he’s been in the majors longer, as his stats compare to someone who has been in the majors for maybe three months, but he should not be put on the ballot until he has the necessary time under his belt.
What encompasses the necessary time? I believe that at least two months is an acceptable amount of time for a major league baseball player to be eligible for an All-Star nod. I would say three months, but Bryce Harper completely redefined the service time when he made the majors at the beginning of last May, culminating in his first, in what will likely be a number of All-star selections. Harper did end up showing that he belonged in the majors after more than one month, and ended up winning the NL Rookie of the Year.
This isn’t to say that Puig will not reach the level that Harper has, but again. I point out that there are plenty of great outfielders in the National League Behind Beltran, Harper and Upton, there’s Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies, Ryan Braun of the Brewers, Matt Holliday of the Cardinals, and Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, and if that’s not enough, there’s also Domonic Brown, who would be picked for a spot if I were the manager of the NL All-stars, and Jay Bruce and Shin-Soo Choo, if that’s not enough.
That’s not to be said that Puig should be completely blocked from the All-star team, When the rosters are announced, there will be one last spot to fill, which is done by the Final Vote. If Puig is voted in this way, or selected as an injury replacement, then I will have no qualms about him playing in the All-star game.
Ordinarily, I would have continued my analysis of the MLB Draft, but when you have a situation like the one involving ballot stuffing like last year, you have to take a break from analyzing prospects and participate in that major issue.
Since last year, ballot stuffing San Francisco Giants fans have taken to their computers, armed with millions of fake e-mail addresses, hoping to send their whole team to the All-Star Game. Last year, the Giants sent four representatives to the All-star game, all of whom were starters: Buster Posey, who did end up deserving it, Melky Cabrera, who won the MVP but ended up getting suspended for PEDs, Pablo Sandoval, who ignited major controversy when he was picked over David Wright, starting the whole ballot stuffing issue, and Matt Cain,who was chosen over R.A. Dickey because Buster Posey couldn’t take half an hour to learn how to catch a knuckleball.
San Francisco won that round, but MLB would not do anything about it. You’d think that they’d learn from their mistakes, and that San Francisco would stopthis scumbaggery, but no.
In the latest vote tally for the All-star game at Citi Field, the Giants are in the top five in all infield categories, with Buster Posey leading the catchers, (angering Cardinals fans who still feel that Yadier Molina is better), Brandon Belt is in third place among first basemen, ahead of more deserving candidates like Allen Craig, Freddie Freeman and Adrian Gonzalez, but at least behind Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt. Marco Scutaro is behind only Brandon Phillips in the second base vote, but ahead of more deserving candidates, like Daniel Murphy, Brandon Crawford is second to Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop, but he is still ahead of more deserving candidates like Jean Segura and Peter Kozma. But the biggest travesty of all is Pablo Sandoval upstaging David Wright for the second consecutive year.
First of all, Wright is statistically better than Sandoval. He was running circles around Sandoval last year, and is doing the same this year. He deserves to start for his home city, but those scumbags in San Francisco once again feel that the Giants vs. the AL formula is much better entertainment. Okay, so they won the World series last year, but does that make it excusable this year?
And what’s worse is that they’re not ashamed to admit it. It’s committing electoral fraud, then saying, “Yeah, I screwed up the All-Star game so that I can get my rocks off by seeing my entire team face the best of the AL, what are you going to do about it?”
Well, Scumbag San Francisco Giants fans, here’s what we’re going to do about it. We are going to complain. We are going to tell the commissioner’s office that this is a clear electoral fraud and that your voting rights should be taken away. Heck, most of us feel that it should be done this way. Instead of letting homerism from a bunch of rabid weed smoking hybrid driving, coffee chugging smug-ass San Francisco bastards dictate the way the game is played, we will give the honor to a committee of coaches. At least they have some degree of respect for the system. We will do everything to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, and when you start whining about it, we’ll point out that you screwed up the system in the first place.
“Well, what are you going to do about it?” I’m pretty sure the Giants fans would say. “Are you going to vote for David Wright at least 5000 times in retaliation? ‘Cause if you do that, you’re no better than us.” No, actually, I actually have some degree of restraint. Having exhausted my 35 votes on clearly deserving candidates, I feel that my course of action is done. In short, I am not a rabid homer douche like those excuses for fans in San Francisco.
Let’s end this madness and send the right candidates to Citi Field for the 2013 All-Star game, not just the stupid Giants. And let’s hope that MLB cracks down on this so that we don’t have to deal with this headache every freaking year.
Yesterday we learned that new Mets catcher and the #6 prospect in baseball, Travis d’Arnaud, has been banned by his superiors from engaging in home plate collisions. The reason for this is because the team wants to exercise caution with their top prospect’s knee, the same one he injured in June last year while sliding into second base. Granted, player safety is a high priority, and it is reasonable to want to protect the future, but the one thing that I don’t completely get is banning home plate collisions.
The issue started two years ago, when the San Francisco Giants faced the Florida Marlins in a then-unconsequential May game. With the score tied 6-6 in the 12th inning, and runners on first and third, Marlins infielder Emilio Bonifacio lifted a shallow fly to right center field, which was caught by Nate Schierholtz. Scott Cousins tagged at third, then bolted for home, where Buster Posey was waiting for him. Cousins railroaded Posey, causing him to drop the ball, and allow the winning run to score. As the play unfolded, Posey fell back on his leg, and somehow fractured his fibula and tore knee ligaments. Posey was lost for the season, and Cousins was vilified by fans, even subject to death threats.
While no notable collisions happened in 2012, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, a former catcher himself, called for the outright ban on collisions, citing not only safety issues, but also the possibility of suffering a concussion during a collision.
I understand what Matheny is saying, and if I was in his position, I would be concerned, but the question here is, how does one go about banning home plate collisions, or in d’Arnaud’s case, prevent himself from being involved in a collision?
In the banning collision department, is the instigator or the catcher ejected if there is a collision? Is there a suspension or a fine? If this happens, will teams be required to keep three catchers on their roster instead of two?
And how about d’Arnaud? He relishes the opportunity to get down and dirty, but in his case, if a runner is barreling down the third base line, does he simply allow the run to score, or does he try something like standing up and slapping the tag on?
Another thing that I find crazy about home plate collisions is that they are a natural part of the game, and you don’t usually ban natural parts of the game. A spitball is unnatural, steroids and HGH are unnatural, even the recently banned pickoff move is unnatural, but come on, a home plate collision? Some of the best postseason plays have come on home plate collisions, like JT Snow moving Dusty Baker’s boy out of harm’s way in the 2002 World Series, Ivan Rodriguez securing an NLDS victory for the Marlins in 2003 by blocking Snow from scoring, and even Paul Lo Duca, in 2006, nabbing not one, but two Dodger baserunners in game one of the NLDS that year, (a game that I attended myself). My philosophy on that is that if it isn’t natural, it goes, but if it is, it stays.
We get that collisions are dangerous and could lead to serious injury, but before calling for an outright ban, think about how exactly this affects the game, and if it’s even a logical move in the first place.