MLB Prospects: Tim Beckham's Suspension Makes Rays' SS Situation Even Bleaker

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterMay 1, 2012

Tim Beckham faces a 50-game suspension after testing positive for drugs a second time
Tim Beckham faces a 50-game suspension after testing positive for drugs a second timeElsa/Getty Images

It’s been a rough week for the Tampa Bay Rays, and it’s only Tuesday.

Earlier today we learned that Evan Longoria could miss six to eight weeks after injuring his hamstring during an awkward slide on Monday night. 

And now it’s being reported by Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that Triple-A shortstop Tim Beckham, the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2008, has been suspended for 50 games after violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a second time.

When a suspension of this nature occurs, the first thought shouldn’t regard the state of the team. Rather, it should be about Beckham and his well being. In my opinion, testing positive for the second time is a clear indication that there’s a great problem at hand. Who knows, but perhaps this is an issue that has impacted his disappointing ascent through the Minor Leagues.

Ranked as the Rays’ No. 10 prospect by Prospect Pipeline, Beckham was in the midst of his first full season at Triple-A Durham. However, the 22-year-old was on the seven-day disabled list and hadn’t played in a game since April 19.  Before the injury—and now 50-game suspension—he was batting .204/.290/.278 with three extra-base hits (no home runs) and four RBI. He had struck out in 13 of 54 at-bats.

At the major League level, the Rays’ production at shortstop has been lackluster to say the least. While Sean Rodriguez may offer speed and above-average defense, he continually struggles at the dish, as evidenced by his 50 wRC+ through his first 76 plate appearances.

Reid Brignac, his backup, has struggled mightily in limited playing time, posting a -20 wRC+ through 18 plate appearances.

Therefore, Beckham’s suspension makes the Rays’ shortstop situation even bleaker, and drastically alters the organizational depth chart at the position.

Next up is Hak-Ju Lee, who may one day become a solid major league shortstop, but is only batting .248/.315/.327 at Double-A Montgomery.

Beyond that, the Rays’ only shortstop prospects are Derek Dietrich (.263/.355/.388) at High-A and Jake Hager (.200/.250/.243) at Class A—neither of which are remotely close to performing at the major league level.

With Longoria out for a significant period of time, the Rays will have to do something to improve the production from their left side of the infield.