ST. PETERSBURG — The five-plus years it took to get here from No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft to major-leaguer, INF Tim Beckham said over and over Wednesday, was "a long ride."
But Beckham, 23, said he never lost faith, not with the onfield struggles, the off-field problems, the endless comparisons to NL MVP Buster Posey and others the Rays could have taken instead who got to the big leagues more quickly.
"I didn't doubt myself. It's been a long ride, but I haven't lost confidence in myself and I never will," Beckham said.
"This is my dream. It's still a dream come true. It would have been great if it was a two-, three-year process, but you've got to play your cards how they're dealt. Sometimes it takes a guy longer than the next guy, and you can't look at other guys' success and measure it up against yours."
The Rays felt he showed enough in his second full season at Triple-A Durham — hitting .276 with four homers, 51 RBIs and a .342 on-base percentage, plus a .290 average in the playoffs — to warrant a promotion, and he joined them Wednesday.
"I really like Beck a lot," manager Joe Maddon said. "He had a really outstanding defensive year at shortstop. Offensively there's still some work to be done, although he's gotten better there, too. He's a wonderful young man. He's definitely got a big-league personality. He's very accountable, he's got a great work ethic and he's still very young. He's earned the right to be here."
Beckham, who also plays second base, isn't likely to see much action except in blowouts, though he did get on the field as Maddon had him bring out the lineup card.
RHP Jake Odorizzi is expected to join the Rays on Friday, adding some depth to the bullpen.
CRAIN TRAIN: RHP Jesse Crain didn't feel quite ready to pitch in the big leagues yet, so the Rays will instead have him throw 20 pitches today in an instructional league game. Crain, out since late June with a strained shoulder, could then join the Rays for action over the weekend.
"I think it ameliorates his own feelings so it was the right thing to do," Maddon said. "Let him go out there and actually compete a little bit because he'll definitely amp it up a little bit more. … This is one of those patient moments. We're looking for the big payoff and we're probably going to see it if we do it right."
NOT-SO-MINOR MATTERS: OF Andrew Toles was named the Rays minor-league player of the year and RHP Dylan Floro was chosen their top pitcher.
Toles, 21, had an impressive first full minor-league season at Class A Bowling Green after being a 2012 third-round pick, hitting a Midwest League-leading .326 with 62 steals, tops in the organization. "This is a great honor to be player of the year in the Rays organization and I'm humbled to accept the award," Toles said. "And let's see what happens next year — this year is over now."
Floro, 22, a 13th-round pick in the 2012 draft, went a combined 11-2, 1.77 between Bowling Green and advanced Class A Charlotte. He said winning the award in the pitching-rich Rays organization was extra special. "It's quite an honor," he said. "I got the phone call and I was kind of speechless. You go to spring training and you see all these guys and it's like, 'Wow, there's pitching in this organization.' "
Toles was also named the best baserunner, RHP Kirby Yates best reliever and OF Kevin Kiermaier best defensive player.
MISCELLANY: The 11 walkoff wins match the second most the Rays have had in a season, with 13 in 2011. INF Sean Rodriguez logged his sixth game-tying or go-ahead hit of the season, his first homer. ... OF Freddy Guzman, who scored the tying run as a pinch-runner, made his first big-league appearance since 2009. ... LHP Matt Moore said he doesn't feel any better or worse going into tonight's start coming off Saturday's rain-abbreviated 60-pitch outing. … The Rays Baseball Foundation distributed $100,000 among 19 Tampa Bay area non-profit groups.