Busy week for the major league squad, but it’s time once again to get to know a random prospect from the system. Today, we have a first baseman with power, but considerable questions if he is mature enough to take advantage of his opportunities.
He’s that guy on the left. The guy on the right, he might be a good prospect, too. Just still wondering if they should have taken Todd Van Poppel instead.
Born in Crawford, Mississippi on August 19, 1990, William Beckwith was unfortunately saddled with a pretentious name that makes it already quite difficult to like the guy. Beckwith’s profile from West Lowndes High School made him a draftable prospect and the Royals spent a 46th-rounder on Beckwith in 2008. The youngster chose not to sign and went to Meridan Community College and then Wallace Community College in Dothan, Alabama. While with Wallace-Dothan in 2010, Beckwith showed his power with 14 homers and accepted a scholarship to join the University of West Florida, but before he could, the Braves came calling in the 2010 draft with a 21st round selection.
Choosing to sign with the franchise that, at the time, also included his uncle, minor league pitching instructor Kent Willis, Beckwith joined the Gulf Coast League Braves to open his professional career. In 21 games, there wasn’t too much to get excited with. His time would come the following season with Danville as he slashed .282/.395/.534, finishing in a tie for fourth in the league with a 11 big flies. His shining moment came on July 14th when he became the first player in the Appalachian League history to hit three homeruns in one game. Even more notable was that the game was shorten to seven innings because of rain. While Beckwith was a long away from being a prospect, he began to get some press for his season at Danville.
Joining Rome for the 2012 season, Beckwith posted a .838 OPS in 106 games, showing surprising speed for a big guy (6’2″, 220 lbs). On the season, he stole 17 bases to go with 26 doubles and 15 homers, finishing one homer short of team-leader Will Skinner, who was tied for 8th most in the SALLY league. Beckwith was hardly a top prospect, especially as he was limited to 1B/DH, but was starting to climb into the Top 30 Braves prospects for different reviewers. With a big 2013, Beckwith could rise up the charts.
He got off to a good start this season with the Hillcats, hitting .262 with a .915 OPS and 5 homers in his first 17 games, but he would hit only .213 and slug .354 over his next 36 games. Those 36 games include a demotion to Danville that came without explanation on May 21st. My local ABC affiliate, WSET, helped to explain why. Beckwith was charged with a DUI on May 16th and failure to obey a traffic light. Considering where he was cited, Wards Road, he probably drank too much at one of the 58 different restaurants on Wards Road (maybe exaggerating a little).
Beckwith returned on June 1st and played until June 15th until being suspended. Not sure why the Braves demoted him after the DUI and decided to simply suspend him almost a month later after letting him return. Either way, Beckwith’s season has been quiet since.
Before the season, Beckwith was a borderline C-prospect who had a lot to prove to rise up the charts. So far, it’s doubtful he may make it into next year. He has shown good power and solid on-base ability, but to be a first base prospect, you have to be extremely gifted offensively and to this point, Beckwith hasn’t been. Add in his off-the-field troubles and Beckwith seems like the deepest of deep sleepers. He might get an opportunity in the majors, possibly as a Quad-A guy who had a good run at the right time to replace a first-baseman who got DL’d. It seems doubtful that Beckwith’s ceiling is much higher.