Beckham, Colabello on different paths

No. 14 Rays prospect goes 4-for-5, Twins vet homers twice

Tim Beckham last had a four-hit game on July 30, 2010 for Charlotte. (Kevin Pataky/

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | May 15, 2013 8:31 PM ET

In most ways, Tim Beckham and Chris Colabello are polar opposites of each other.

Beckham was selected first overall in the 2008 Draft and he inked a lucrative deal worth $6.15 million, the largest signing bonus ever given out by the Rays. Colabello, meanwhile, lasted just three weeks after signing his first pro contract back in '06, and spent seven years toiling on the Independent League scene.

Beckham is a slick-fielding 23-year-old shortstop with plus speed. By contrast, Colabello is a hulking 30-year-old first baseman with big league pop.

Continuing the parallels one step further, Beckham was all smiles after recording his sixth career four-hit game and hitting his first homer in nine months, while Colabello's two longballs saw him extend his team lead to 10 but finish on the losing side.

Durham's Beckham went 4-for-5 with a two-run homer, a double and two runs scored to topple the effort of Colabello, who plated five runs in Rochester's 10-7 loss on Wednesday.

Beckham, the Rays' No. 14 prospect, reached on a bunt single in the second inning, doubled to left field in the fourth, singled and scored in the seventh and lifted a ball over the left-field wall in the ninth.

"I haven't changed anything, just swinging away and hitting the ball hard," Beckham said. "My approach is the same every time I go to the plate, look fastball middle-away and react in. The hits were falling tonight, but you have to stay humble and come back and go after it the next time."

That humility comes from his upbringing in Georgia and the people who helped shape his early baseball development.

Beckham singled out father Jimmy, older brother Jeremy, summer ball coach Anthony Dye and Griffin High School coaches Sal Argila and Jamie Cassady as some of the most important people in his life before pro baseball.

"My pops is my role model. He is the strongest man I know," Beckham said. "He would get up at 3:30 a.m. or 4 a.m. and drive one-and-a-half hours away to get to work so he could get back after school at 4 p.m. so he could drive me to practice which was another hour away.

"I wanted to be first at whatever I did. I have the competitiveness from my two older brothers and playing with their friends who were four or five years older than me. I just have to keep playing the game at 110 percent and playing with everything I've got. That is how I was taught to play."

While Beckham was leading a 19-hit parade for the Bulls, Colabello collected three extra-base hits off baseball's No. 42 prospect Jake Odorizzi. After doubling in the first, he slugged a two-run homer off Odorizzi in the fourth and he launched another two-run longball off the right-hander with two outs in the fifth.

"[Odorizzi] walked the first hitter on four pitches and he was having control problems," Colabello said of his first homer. "He was leaving balls up in the zone and not really finishing the pitch ... I got to 3-0 and I took a fastball to get to 3-1, so I was back to attack mode and I got a fastball over the middle of the plate.

"He had got back to controlling the ball a little bit [in the fifth]. I told myself if there was anything over the middle of the plate I was going to attack, and he threw me a first-pitch fastball."

Signed by the Twins as a free agent last February, Colabello leads the Red Wings with 10 homers and 29 RBIs

One of the older members of the Red Wings, Colabello has assumed a leadership role on the field and in the locker room. Rather than telling the younger teammates what they can and can't do, he chose to lead by example.

"I think any time in baseball when you have been around the game, you become the de facto leader. Hopefully when they see my work ethic and staying positive, it's something that funnels through the clubhouse.

"It's just about playing the game the right way every night. That's what real leaders do, what players in the big leagues and other pro sports do. They go out and compete every day."

Colabello originally signed with the Detroit Tigers in 2006, but he was released after just 22 days. He spent seven seasons with Worcester of the Can-Am Association, but then his fortunes began to change.

First, the Twins called to offer him a Minor League contract in 2012. Then he featured prominently among the Eastern League's leaders in a number of categories including doubles (37, first), RBIs (98, second), runs scored (78, fourth) and homers (19, tied for fourth). Team Italy added him to its World Baseball Classic roster and Minnesota then invited him to Spring Training.

"As a player, you always imagine getting the chance to play affiliated, but at the end of the day I consider myself very fortunate and I can't thank the Twins organization enough for the chance they gave me at Double-A last year or at Rochester this year."

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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