Archive for the 'College baseball picks' Category

43: Draft It Like Beckham

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by williamwallace

ATHENS, GA –Here come the Beckhams! No, we’re not talking about David and Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham. We’re talking about Timothy and Gordon Beckham, a pair of shortstops from the great state of Georgia. And, no, Timothy and Gordon Beckham are not brothers.

Timothy BeckhamTimothy Beckham is a 6’2”, 190 pound high school senior in Griffin, Georgia who has committed to play college baseball for the Trojans of the University of Southern California. Tim, however, will most likely never play for USC. The opinion is almost unanimous that Tim will be drafted with one of the top 5 picks in the upcoming Major League Baseball amateur draft. Many scouts have commented that Tim has the best collection of tools of any positional player in the upcoming draft. Many believe he will most likely be drafted with the first or second overall pick by the Tampa Bay Rays or the Pittsburgh Pirates. It is often said that Tim will not escape the grasp of the Rays at the first pick because he fits the athletic profile of many picks in the draft history of the Rays: Josh Hamilton, Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, Elijiah Dukes and B.J. Upton.

Tim is a former three sport star who is often seen honing his tremendous skills on a baseball diamond or in a batting cage at all hours of the day and night throughout the year. That wasn’t always the case, however. A few years ago, his passion was football and basketball. His father and older brother, however, patiently guided him back to baseball. “I didn’t lose passion for (baseball), but I fell in love with basketball and stopped playing baseball for about three years,” Tim said. “My brother kept telling me how good I could be. He said that’s my meal ticket out of Griffin. So I gotta take it.”

As a player, Tim is widely regarded as a bona fide five tooler and, depending upon which scout is talking, is often compared to Barry Larkin, Derek Jeter, Brandon Phillips, Edgar Renteria and each of the Brothers Upton. Recent scouting reports have said of him:
“He’s got tools galore… he’s got the ability and potential to hit, hit for power, steal bases and stay at shortstop at the big-league level…… the type of athlete that makes everything he does look easy. He glides to balls hit deep in the hole to either side of him, and runs the bases gracefully, stretching singles into doubles and doubles into triples. He has good arm strength, soft hands and good instincts that should allow him to star at shortstop for years to come. While his defense draws more raves that his bat, he has improved at the plate over the last year and is now considered a legitimate threat, as he stings the ball to all parts of the field and has also shown the ability to hit the ball out as his body continues to mature and add strength….. Of the past ultra toolsy high school players selected in the top 5, Beckham has the best chance of remaining at shortstop with a fluid movement and powerful arm. He is blessed with excellent speed that translates to the basepaths as well. His hands are extremely smooth and he’s able to break in on the ball with rapid movement, while bringing the ball from his glove to his throwing hand faster than any shortstop in recent memory…… profiles as a number two hitter with excellent contact skills and extra base power. Easily could become a perennial 30/30 threat. Beckham’s best asset at the plate is his uncanny patience, unafraid to take a walk and allow the player behind him to drive him in.”

His high school coach recently said of him, “He understands you are going to strike out, he understands you are going to make errors, and if that ever happens, he keeps playing right through it. That’s going to help him get to where he wants to go. He is good about keeping his temperament; he never gets way up, he never gets way down.”

Similar praise and expectations have been known to overwhelm many seventeen year olds. Tim, however, seems to have incredible poise. “Griffin, Ga., is a small town where everyone knows everyone and it’s easy to get caught up in the wrong things sometimes. He’s done a good job of keeping his head on the prize and focused on his future. For him to take this route means a great deal,” Clarence Johns, a Houston Astros cross checker recently said of Tim.

Tim’s ability to stay levelheaded seems to have been aided by the great family support network surrounding him. His father is a GM union representative who makes the 90 minute roundtrip trek everyday from Griffin to the Doraville GM plant to provide the financial means for his family and the baseball dreams of his son. “Tim has been kind of expensive,” his father recently told the AJC. “I paid for him to play AAU baseball.” His father estimates that he has had to annually spend $3000 for Tim to chase his baseball dreams. “We’ve paid for him to be comfortable that way,” his father said. The sacrifices made by his father have not been lost on Tim. “I don’t know how much I’m going to get, but if I do get a lot, [I’ll] be able to take care of my family. I’d move my dad out of an apartment, and I’d move my mom out of an apartment, too,” Tim recently told the AJC of his divorced parents. Being the recipient of a lucrative contract as a top 5 pick would certainly benefit his family. His father’s Doraville GM plant is scheduled to close in September three years before his father can retire from GM.

Gordon BeckhamGordon Beckham plays in Athens, Georgia on the collegiate level for the University of Georgia. Gordon is widely regarded as the premier college middle infielder in the upcoming draft. The earliest Gordon is projected to be drafted is with the number 5 pick by the San Francisco Giants. That’s quite a remarkable leap for a player who was not drafted by any MLB team after his senior year of high school. “I could’ve gone and played football at some smaller schools like Air Force, Ohio and Wake Forest and I could’ve played and been a contributor, or gone to some SEC schools and been a low-key player,” said Gordon. “I figured my future was probably in baseball, even though I wasn’t really looked at as a big talent.”

Gordon recently explained his growth as a baseball player to ESPN, saying: “It’s just getting older and understanding what it takes to be successful. It’s almost learning to fail, I guess is the best way to say it. This is a game of failure. When you finally understand you’re not going to be perfect, the game gets easier.” David Perno, Gordon’s coach at UGA recently explained Gordon’s progress: “He always had the tools and skills, but he always got off to a bad start. He was trying to do too much too soon. Now, he’s letting the game come to him. He’s not having to carry bad at-bats out to the field. I think that’s all it was — him understanding what kind of talent he has and slowing it down.”

Those who have seen him play say the 6’0”, 185 pound Gordon is a good wiry athlete and a solid all around prospect. His speed, range and arm force many to project him as an All Star caliber second baseman instead of a shortstop. He has been praised for being a line drive hitter who possesses quick wrists and surprising power. Although a home run hitter in college, it is expected that he will be more of a gap power hitter with a wood bat in the pros. “I don’t believe that I am a per se “power hitter.” In my opinion, I hit long line drives that sometimes leave the park. I think it used to be a big deal to me. But, as I have matured as a player I have begun to realize that it’s more important to constantly put pressure on the defense, to fight and claw for every hit to help the team. That is more important to me.”

Many project Gordon to be a Michael Young type. Gordon refuses to compare his skills to current or past major leaguers, saying: “Every player is inherently different, therefore in my opinion it makes no sense to model your game after someone. I believe you need to watch major leaguers, see how they carry themselves, and see how they handle their business. I would love to lead my team the way Derek Jeter does, but other than that, I don’t model my game after anyone.”

Gordon plays the game with a hardnosed passion. He recently explained what caused him to hit a homer against a trashtalking opponent. “It’s very frustrating to play a baseball game when you have guys on the other team constantly just chirping like a softball team. This is not softball it’s baseball. I was very frustrated with it because that’s not the way you play baseball in my opinion. Some people believe that that’s the way you play but I was just very frustrated. When Michael (Demperio) got on that inning I was like if he throws it anywhere near the plate I’m gonna hit it as hard as I can, and that’s what happened. He left a fastball right down the middle and I crushed it. It’s very frustrating playing baseball teams that act like that because it’s Mickey Mouse stuff.”

Because he comes from a great, stable family, Gordon has remained level headed. His mother recently said of him, “Gordon does a good job of keeping things in perspective. He’s always been that way. It’s a win-win situation with the draft. If it’s not the right time, he’ll come back for his final year at Georgia. If it’s time for him to move on, then he will.’’

Timothy and Gordon Beckham will never become as famous as David Beckham because that’s almost impossible to do. Timothy and Gordon Beckham, however, may have the ability to be better in baseball than David Beckham ever was in soccer. It’s too bad these Beckham boys will no longer be around by the time the Braves start picking players.



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