LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. The Tampa Bay Rays selected Tim Beckham with the No. 1 pick in the baseball draft Thursday, choosing the talented high school shortstop from Griffin, Ga., over Florida State catcher Buster Posey.
Beckham was recognized as one of the best pure athletes in the draft and labeled a legitimate five-tool player. He established himself as the top prep prospect in the nation with solid performances at last summer's high school showcase events and hit .482 with six homers, 13 doubles, 41 RBIs and 23 stolen bases as a senior.
"I found out this morning. ... The scouting director gave me a call and the general manager gave me a call. It was crazy. I was about to do a back flip in my room," Beckham said.
"It means everything in the world. I've worked this hard the last three or four years, me and my brothers and my dad. This means all the hard work paid off. I hope to become an All-Star and after that I want to become a Hall of Famer."
With the second pick, the Pittsburgh Pirates chose sweet-swinging Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez. Florida high school first baseman Eric Hosmer went third to the Kansas City Royals, and the Baltimore Orioles took top college pitching prospect Brian Matusz out of San Diego with the fourth pick.
This is the second straight year the Rays have had the No. 1 pick. David Price, a hard-throwing left-hander from Vanderbilt, was the choice in 2007 and is off to a great start with Class-A Vero Beach.Beckham is the third high school shortstop taken No. 1 overall in the last five years, joining Justin Upton (Arizona, 2005) and Matt Bush (San Diego, 2004).
KEMP, TORREALBA SLAPPED WITH SUSPENSIONS: Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp was suspended for four games and Colorado catcher Yorvit Torrealba was penalized three games Thursday following their tussle earlier this week.
Both players also were fined undisclosed amounts by Major League Baseball disciplinarian Bob Watson.
Kemp appealed his suspension, allowing him to play until a hearing is held. He was in the starting lineup Thursday night for the opener of a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs.
"That's what they decided to do, so I have to respect that. But I feel it was just as much his fault as my fault," Kemp said. "I don't feel that I should get more, but it's not my decision. That's why I'm appealing it. I didn't know it was going to be that many games, but we'll see what happens."
The Rockies were informed that Torrealba plans to appeal his suspension as well. The team was off Thursday before beginning a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.
Kemp and Torrealba tangled Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. Kemp struck out on a pitch in the dirt for the final out of the eighth inning, and the ball rolled a few feet to the right of Torrealba.
Torrealba brushed Kemp from behind before picking up the ball and tagging him lightly in the chest. Kemp shoved Torrealba, and the Rockies catcher retaliated by shoving Kemp in the face with both hands.Kemp and Torrealba wrestled on the infield grass as both benches and bullpens emptied. Both players were ejected in the Rockies' 3-0 win.
PUNTO PLACED BACK ON DISABLED LIST: Minnesota Twins shortstop Nick Punto was sent back to the 15-day disabled list on Thursday with a strained left hamstring, and Minnesota pulled rookie infielder Matt Macri off a plane to fill the spot.
Macri was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday to make room for the return of starting pitcher Scott Baker. Macri was aboard a flight, but the Twins got approval from Major League Baseball to recall him and waive the 10-day requirement for stays in the minors.
Punto came off the DL on Saturday and aggravated the injury in the game that night. On Thursday, he went 2-for-3 with two doubles and a walk. He helped turn a double play and had five putouts and four assists.
But in the ninth inning against Baltimore closer George Sherrill, Punto's hit into the left-field corner might have gone for a triple if he able to run full speed. He was stranded at second, and the Twins lost 3-2.