Beckham deal a record $6.15-million
The Rays signed top draft pick Tim Beckham and gave him a $6.15-million bonus, the largest for a drafted player, and he will start his career next week with the Princeton (W. Va.) Devil Rays.
"It's a crazy feeling right now, I can't even put it into words,'' said Beckham (left).
The announcement was made this afternoon in front of the Rays dugout at Tropicana Field. Shortly thereafter, Beckham changed into a uniform, wearing tghe No. 3 jersey that had been hanging in the locker next to B.J. Upton, and took batting practice with the team. Beckham, a shortstop from Griffin (Ga.) High, will throw out the first pitch before tonight's game.
"It's what I've been wishing for my whole life. It's a dream come true,'' said Beckham, 18. "I'm ready to just play. Get all the business side out of the way and do what I love to do.''
The largest bonus deal to a player on a minor-league contract was the $6.1-million that Arizona gave Justin Upton, younger brother of B.J. Upton. Baltimore gave C Matt Weiters $6-million last season.
"It's a great day for the organization,'' Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "One thing we really worked hard to do, and obviously both sides have to do, in order to get him out playing this early is invaluable in terms of him gaining that experience.''
Beckham, 18, said when the Rays made him the No. 1 pick of the June 5 draft that he hoped to be in the majors in 2-3 seasons. He will s expected to start his pro career with Princeton (W. Va) in the rookie-level Appalachian League, where he will join his older brother Jeremy, a second baseman who was drafted in the 17th round and signed last week.
Beckham said he was eager to start playing in the minors and get to the majors, and has enjoyed the Rays' recent success.
"I'm more than happy for them doing really good right now,'' Beckham said. "And once I get here hopefully we can win the World Series.''
[James Borchuck, Times files]