ST. PETERSBURG — Jimmy Beckham called it a Father's Day present that came early.
His son, Georgia Southern second baseman Jeremy Beckham, said it was a dream come true.
When Jeremy, 22, found out Friday that he was drafted in the 17th round (503rd overall) by the same Rays that selected his younger brother, Tim, a Georgia high school shortstop, with the No. 1 overall pick, visions of turning double plays together danced in their heads.
"We both looked at each other, smiled, and said, 'Finally,' " Jeremy said. "We've been waiting on this day forever. Hopefully me and Tim will be up the middle together really soon."
Until then, Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison said, the incredibly tight-knit brothers could help each other's transition through the minor-league system. Although the athletic infielders have different styles — Jeremy, the table-setting speedster (24-for-29 on stolen bases last season), is known for his soft hands, and Tim, a potential five-tool prospect — they've always complemented each other.
Tim, 18, credits his older brother for persuading him to stick with baseball during his early teenage years, when "my love for the game kind of went away."
"Anything Jeremy did," his father said, "(Tim) felt like he could do it better."
Now, they can both do it together.
Seeking southpaws: Harrison said the Rays targeted left-handed pitching throughout the spring, and it showed in Friday's second day of the draft, as Tampa Bay took 10 lefties in their final 44 selections. "To me, I'd rather take a chance at (lefties); they are so few or far between," Harrison said. "If we can find one of those guys that has the ability to get left-handed hitters out, they can pitch their way out of the minor leagues and help us."
Digging dirtbags: The Rays picked two position players from Long Beach State, the alma mater of third baseman Evan Longoria and whose baseball program goes by the nickname "Dirtbags." Harrison said he likes the power of their seventh-round pick, Jason Corder, who was a pitching prospect out of high school but had a breakout season at the plate his senior year at Long Beach State (.301, 13 homers, 54 RBI). Harrison said, "Our guys like his raw power."
For the record, so does Longoria. Said Harrison, "We check with Evan first before we take any of those Dirtbags."
Times staff writer Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.