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2008 first overall pick Tim Beckham becomes a long shot

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As the St. Petersburg Times’ Marc Topkin points out here, the first overall pick in the 2008 draft, Tim Beckham, was left off Baseball America’s list of the Rays’ top 10 prospects when it was announced last week.

Beckham, a shortstop taken out of a Georgia high school, was ranked by BA as the Rays’ No. 2 prospect behind David Price headed into 2009 and the team’s No. 6 prospect a year ago.    As a 20-year-old, he hit .256/.346/.359 for high-A Charlotte in the Florida State League last season.

The Rays have traditionally had strong prospect lists, and they have a few more outstanding youngsters coming along in pitchers Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore and outfielder Desmond Jennings.  Still, their second five is nothing special at the moment and it says something that Beckham and all of his tools can’t crack the list.

Beckhan has managed to hold his own while being among the youngest players in his leagues, but he hasn’t excelled at any point since being drafted.   There’s still good reason to think that he’ll develop 20-homer power as he matures.  However, it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll last at shortstop and he’d have to get a whole lot better offensively in order to make it as a corner outfielder.   Third base could be another option for him, but not with the Rays.

With fellow 2008 top-five picks Buster Posey, Brian Matusz and Pedro Alvarez all showing a lot of promise as rookies last season, the Rays appear to have made a costly misfire.   But that’s the gamble they made by taking a chance on the raw talent.  Unlike with the Padres and Matt Bush years earlier, this wasn’t a case of the Rays going with an overdraft in an attempt so save money.   The team thought it was pretty well set at catcher and third base with Dioner Navarro and Evan Longoria, and Beckham was given pretty much the same bonus that Posey and Alvarez received.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.