06/07/08 12:09 AM ET
Beckhams highlight Rays' Draft
Club also makes sure to select power bats, left-handers
By Britanny Ghiroli / MLB.com
The Rays drafted Tim's older brother, Jeremy, with the first pick in the 17th round (503rd overall) on Friday.
"We feel like we definitely can contribute and bring something to the table to the Rays organization," Jeremy said. "We are just enjoying this time, and are excited to get out there and get it going."
The move has already been lauded by national pundits as an excellent tool to help ease 18-year-old Tim's transition into the big leagues. But according to Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison, the elder Beckham has some serious baseball upside as well.
"He's a good baserunner," Harrison said, adding that the Rays have been watching Jeremy progress over four years at Georgia Southern University. "He's going to be a good asset to the organization; we are always looking to add good people."
Beckham -- who hit .333 and stole a team-high 24 bases -- was one of the players that the Rays targeted for the Draft's second day, as the club sought to use its remaining picks on a mix of speed, power and left-handed pitching.
"We really tried to lay it out until about the first 10 rounds of the day [on Friday]," Harrison said. "We wanted to find anything -- position or big tools -- that were still on and try to get to them."
While the Beckhams were the only set of siblings drafted, there was some familiarity among a few other selections, most notably outfielder Jason Corder (203rd overall) and second baseman Jason Tweedy (593rd overall). Both draftees hail from Long Beach State, joining current Rays rookie Evan Longoria.
"We check with Evan first before we take any of those [Long Beach State] Dirtbags," Harrison said.
Corder, a right fielder by way of Capistrano Valley High (Calif.), had a breakout senior year with Long Beach State. The senior hit .306 in 37 games, and he has hit 20 home runs in the past two seasons for the Dirtbags.
A powerful bat was a key focus for the Rays, who were also excited about the left-handed bat of their eighth-round selection, Anthony Scelfo (233rd overall pick). As Tulane University's second baseman, Scelfo was an all-conference pick after leading the team with 12 homers, seven triples, a .578 slugging percentage and a .453 on-base percentage.
Rays' top five selections
|1.||RHP||Tim Beckham||Griffin HS (Ga.)|
|47.||RHP||Kyle Lobstein||Coconino HS (Ariz.)|
|78.||2B||Jacob Jefferies||UC Davis|
|113.||RHP||Christopher Morrison||Tigard HS (Ore.)|
|143.||RHP||Michael Sheridan||Col William & Mary|
|Complete Rays Draft results >|
Although Tampa Bay had stressed selecting talent over organizational need, Harrison said that notion was used to a lesser degree in the later rounds, as the club had to fill roster positions at Rookie League Princeton and Class A short-season Hudson Valley.
"We draft with that in mind to a degree as well," he said. "Got some good young kids, good college players. [We] got a really good mix [Friday]. Power, left-handed pitching, which we targeted throughout the spring."
Chief among those southpaws was the Rays' second pick on Thursday, Kyle Lobstein (47th overall).
The hurler was ranked as having the "best command" among high school pitchers by Baseball America, and he posted a 1.32 ERA as a senior out of Coconino High School in Arizona.
"He's got a Major League body, delivery and arm action," said Harrison, who also noted that the Rays were ecstatic that Lobstein was still available in the second round. "His stuff is good now, and we feel there is more to come."
Joining Lobstein in the wealth of left-handed arms selected by the Rays were Shawn Smith (263rd overall) of Saugus High School (Calif.), Ryan Carpenter (623rd overall) of Cactus High School (Ariz.) and Neil Schenk (683rd overall) from the University of Memphis.
"I don't know that we stole anybody," Harrison mused after the Draft had concluded. "We were happy to get these guys, and we thought they were good Drafts for us. And that's what really matters."
Local ties: Michael McKenna, the 2008 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, attends Florida Atlantic University, and the outfielder was drafted 413th overall. Lefty Christopher Matulis (1397th overall), the Rays' pick in the 47th round, attends Park Vista Community High School (Fla.).
Roll call: The final breakdown of the Rays' Draftees include 27 pitchers (15 right-handers and 12 lefties), four catchers, nine infielders and 10 outfielders. Twenty-five of the club's 50 picks were used to draft high school players.
Britanny Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.