As he heard MLB commissioner Bud Selig announce his name on an ESPN2 live-telecast of the draft, Beckham jumped from his chair on the stage at the GTO Event Center and hugged each member of his family before donning a Tampa Bay jersey with his name stitched across the back.
“This feels great. All this hard work I’ve been doing for the past three or four years has finally paid off,” he said. It’s a dream come true for me and my family.”
Thursday’s announcement was just a formality for Beckham. The former Griffin High School shortstop said he learned that he would be the No. 1 pick early Thursday morning.
Despite learning of his MLB future just moments before, Beckham quickly set lofty goals for his professional baseball career.
“I hope to become an All-Star, and after that I want to become a Hall of Famer,” he said.
Beckham already has become a celebrity in Griffin, where hundreds of guests watched the draft at the event center, all of whom wanted one more memento before he left for the big leagues.
“I’ve signed a lot of autographs. It’s crazy today,” he said.
The right-handed hitter batted .482 with six home runs, 41 RBI, 58 runs scored and 23 steals this season as he led the Bears to the Class AAAA state championship series for the first time since 1981.
Beckham’s baseball stock rose during the summer when the shortstop was named the MVP of the AFLAC All-American High School Baseball Classic in San Diego, where he drove in three runs — including the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning — to lead the East to victory.
Baseball America also named Beckham the No. 1 high school prospect in the nation, the No. 2 “best pure hitter,” the No. 3 “best defensive player,” and No. 2 “closest to the majors.”
The notoriety prompted Scouts from across the MLB to watch the shortstop frequently this past season. Scouts were at every Griffin game and practice. Beckham added he was happy to be done with that process and start his professional career.
And Tampa Bay is ready to take him.
“We are thrilled to announce the selection of Tim Beckham. We project him to be a true impact player,” Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman said in a press release. “He has an advanced offensive approach, coupled with outstanding athleticism and a genuine enthusiasm for the game. We are anxious to get him signed and to begin the path to the major leagues.”
Beckham said he would begin contract negotiations with the Rays on Friday with hopes of signing as soon as possible to get a quick start to his professional career.
Before reporting to the Rays rookie camp in Princeton, W. Va,, though, he said he had just one request.
“I just want to take a week where I can go on vacation and enjoy it,” he said.
But there was more than one Beckham waiting for his name to be called in the draft. Tim’s older brother Jeremy, who just finished his senior season as a second baseman as Georgia Southern, also hopes to be drafted.
“Hopefully he’ll get pick up by Tampa Bay too,” Tim said. “That’ll be another dream come true.”