Tim Beckham’s Improvements, Matt Moore’s Big Game, Alex Cobb’s Blisters, and More | The Process Report

Tim Beckham’s Improvements, Matt Moore’s Big Game, Alex Cobb’s Blisters, and More

Once players are sent to minor league camp, they tend to fall out of sight and mind until the minor league season begins. Luckily, The Montgomery Advertiser’s Stacy Long is providing excellent cover from Port Charlotte, illuminating an otherwise opaque phase of the season. What follows is a collection of Long-reported nuggets.

Tim Beckham

Long wrote a nice piece on the former number-one pick as Beckham head into his age-21 season at Double-A Montgomery. Beckham alludes to an improved plate approach in which he seeks out opportunities and attempts to work himself into hitter counts. The other large knocks on Beckham, his defense and long-term position, are also addressed in in the form of a quote by Neil Allen –formerly the pitching coach at Charlotte and now at Durham—who says, “He really opened my eyes to believe in him to play that position very well,” before adding, “He came a long way last year and, in the second half, made big, big strides.”

A coach is always going to play cheerleader in the media, but Allen’s supportive comments about Beckham’s strides and character are refreshing and perhaps a twinge encouraging in light of the constant negativity and hyperbole surrounding Beckham and his posterior.

Matt Moore

Moore, the minor league strikeout king for two seasons running, threw four no-hit innings against Durham earlier this week. Moore also struck out 10 and walked just a batter, meaning only two balls were put into play against a guy who many consider a slow starter. A possible explanation (beyond random variation) arose with the news that Moore had bone chips removed from his elbow over the offseason. Moore will lead a rotation manned by Chris Archer, Joseph Cruz, Shane Dyer, and Nick Barnese –who had a strong final spring outing, striking out 10 batters in five innings pitched against Baltimore while allowing one hit.

Alex Cobb

Cobb will begin the season in the Durham rotation alongside Alex Torres and a host of minor league veterans (Edgar Gonzalez, Richard De Los Santos, and Dirk Hayhurst) and may find himself in the majors at some point this season, but so far the righty has dealt with blister issues on his pitching hand –a condition that has plagued him in the past.

Matt Sweeney

The slugging third baseman acquired in the Scott Kazmir trade, Sweeney is something of a forgotten man thanks to the success of trade mates Sean Rodriguez and Alex Torres. Mediocre defense and a history of poor health led many to forecast Sweeney as a long-term fit at first base when the Rays acquired him, yet his offense has since abandoned him. Sweeney hit .264/.345/.488 for High-A Port Charlotte in 2010 before falling apart in Montgomery (.196/.263/.276 in 45 games while fanning in nearly one-third of his plate appearances).

The power outages is a cause for concern, however some skill-decay related fear should be alleviated by the news that Sweeney was battling with elbow tendinitis. In order to attempt and buck the trend of poor health, Sweeney dropped 15-to-20 pounds through an improved diet. The Rays have since officially moved him to first base, so the man Keith Law ranked as his 68th best prospect in 2010 will have to learn a new position while attempting to find his offensive groove.

Will Kline

Kline’s name serves as a litmus test for Rays’ fandom –at least in longevity. Drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft, Kline started nine games for the Rays’ Low-A affiliate that season and hasn’t appeared in a regular season game at any level since. Kline has torn his labrum more times than one can count and felt another twinge in his shoulder during his third throwing session of the year. Kline is one a one-way track to a profession outside of pitching baseballs and the good news is that he finished up his degree in December. I hope that Kline finds more success and less pain in whatever plans he has for the future.

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