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Signing Beckham quickly a priority

Posted Jun 5, 2008 by Marc Lancaster

Updated Jun 5, 2008 at 03:42 PM

In a perfect world, the Rays would be able to get Tim Beckham integrated into their farm system immediately, a la Evan Longoria a couple of years ago.

They won’t have a deal done that quickly on this one, and it sounds like it will be at least a few days, but they’re optimistic the negotiations won’t stretch all the way to the Aug. 15 deadline as they did with David Price last year. That delay effectively kept Price from participating in minor-league games last summer, which the Rays didn’t really mind because he had thrown so many innings at Vanderbilt.

Beckham is a different case, though. It’s more important for a high school player to get out and acclimated to professional ball, and the Rays believe Beckham playing this summer could be a boon to his professional development and help get him to the majors quicker than if he holds out. Plus, Beckham played in only 36 high school games and innings counts aren’t a concern like they would be for a pitcher.

“Developmentally speaking, to get a high school guy out and playing this year is critical,” said Andrew Friedman. “With a college guy, they’ve played a much bigger schedule and in most cases a lot of summer ball as well, so it’s not as important to us. Obviously, you always prefer it, but it wouldn’t be as important to us if we would have taken a college guy if it would have dragged until August.

“In this case, it was refreshing for us to hear how much Tim wanted to get out and play this year and didn’t want this process to run until August. That said, we still have to sit down and find an overlap, but we’re confident we’ll do so.”

How quickly might Beckham join the fold?

“I don’t have a great feel for it other than both sides are in agreement that getting him out and playing is in everyone’s best interest,” said Friedman. “He really wants to get out there and start playing and we really want to get him out there and start playing. So we’re going to let the process run its course, but we’re hopeful that it won’t be something that will drag on throughout the summer.”

Whenever Beckham signs, he likely will begin his pro career at the Rays’ Princeton affiliate, Friedman and R.J. Harrison agreed.

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