Many fans think of Tim Beckham
as the top overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. As a result, the expectations for the Durham infielder have been sky-high ever since Tampa Bay drafted him.
But the Georgia native said trying to live up to the hype that comes with being the first pick in the Draft isn't as difficult as it may seem.
"It's no pressure," Beckham said. "People think it puts a lot of pressure on me, but it doesn't.
"Baseball is hard enough as it is, so you don't want to think about all the extra stuff. So I continue to work and continue to focus."
Beckham is hitting .261 with two homers and 20 RBIs in 53 games with the Bulls. But Durham manager Charlie Montoyo said there is more to Beckham's performance in his first full season in the International League than just those numbers.
"He's still a young player," Montoyo said of the 22-year-old shortstop. "He's got the tools to do better than he's doing right now, but if you think about it, he's really a senior in college playing Triple-A baseball.
"He still has stuff to learn, but when he does, the sky is the limit."
The 6-foot, 190-pounder split last season between Double-A Montgomery and the Bulls, finishing with a .271 batting average, 12 homers, 70 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.
But Beckham got off to a rough start this season, batting .204 in 13 games before being slapped with a 50-game suspension for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Beckham has bounced back, hitting .343 since returning in June, and steadily raising his average.
"I just wanted to put together a good season," he said of his expectations. "There's still a lot of season to go, so I'm still going to come in and keep working, day-in and day-out.
"I'm a big believer that hard work always pays off, and it will."
Montoyo said it's unrealistic to expect that Beckham, one of the youngest players in the IL at 22, to dominate against older, more experienced players.
"That's the problem: People are putting too much on him, and he's just a kid," Montoyo said. "When you're drafted No. 1, people expect a lot more.
"The main thing is that he's healthy and he's getting at-bats. When you have tools, it can come together at the snap of your fingers."
While that hasn't happened yet, Beckham said he'll keep working until it does.
"I was a No. 1 draft pick, but I still am a baseball player," Beckham said. "I still have to come in and produce. That motivates me. You always want to help your team win. Every competitor has that mind-set."
Going, going, gone for Gomez: Pawtucket's Mauro Gomez has been one of the most consistent hitters in the IL this season. Gomez enters this week ranked third with a .304 batting average and fourth with 22 homers and 66 RBIs. He also leads the league with a .577 slugging percentage and 54 extra-base hits while ranking third with 31 doubles.
"The Mayor" ranks among the leaders: Since John Lindsey joined Toledo on June 26, he's been among the IL's most productive hitters. In 43 games, he's hitting .288 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs. Those 11 homers are tied for tops in the league during that span, while the 34 RBIs are second. Lindsey also has a .381 on-base percentage and a .965 OPS.
He said it: "You can't fight Mother Nature. Of course, we didn't want the rain coming in, but it was great in the clubhouse when we found out it was official. It was nice to know that it's done, but, of course, I wanted to go the full nine." -- Indianapolis LHP Justin Wilson to the Indianapolis Star on Aug. 9 after throwing an eight-inning no-hitter against Charlotte. Rain washed away the final frame of the Indians' 3-0 victory. It was the second unusual no-hitter in which Wilson has been a part: He threw the first 7 1/3 innings of one on April 29, combining with Jose Diaz and Doug Slaten to blank Durham.
He said it, part II: "[Eury Perez] has done extremely well here. He seems to have made the transition from Double-A to Triple-A with ease. To this point, he hasn't really been challenged at the plate. He hasn't been overwhelmed at this level. He's had quality at-bats. He's done a nice job on the bases, especially today, getting good reads off the lefty and stealing second base. He's just a young talent and we're excited to have him." -- Syracuse manager Tony Beasley to the Syracuse Post-Standard. Since he was promoted from Double-A Harrisburg on July 20, Perez is hitting .337 with 12 stolen bases in 22 games with the Chiefs.