The full package, top prospect Beckham ready to make leap (cont.)
Pamela Howard teaches Beckham in honors economics, and she's noticed a maturity that will help Beckham as he deals with the pressure of celebrity and money at a young age. One day, she asked him why he wasn't wearing one of his favorite necklaces, and Tim told her a young fan said he liked it, so Tim gave it to him.
"He comes from a good family and you can see that in his character," Howard says. "I just want him to stay focused and not let the money control him, and I don't think he will."
In addition to his talent, Beckham has succeeded in large part because of a work ethic that had him at the baseball field for more than four hours a day in the offseason the last two years, running hills, hitting off a tee or working on his footwork. Beckham said he would try to get teammates to join him, but after a day of working until 8 p.m., they found other things to do.
One person that can keep up with Beckham's workouts is the person who is most responsible for Beckham fulfilling his baseball talent. His older brother, Jeremy, kept prodding Tim to stick with baseball when Tim gave up the sport on an organized level for three years as a youth -- despite wowing the umpires at a 12-year-old national tournament in Cooperstown to the point where they wanted his autograph. Tim was interested in basketball and football, but after enough trips to the park to watch his older brothers play, he formally jumped back into the sport for good as an eighth-grader.
Beckham played basketball for Griffin High as a freshman and sophomore before making the difficult decision to focus strictly on baseball. In fact, because basketball season ran late, Beckham played his first game as a sophomore without going to one team practice or taking one session of batting practice. He homered in his first at-bat.
"It was a cold day, and no one could really hit," says Tim's brother, Stephen, who is two years older than Tim and played baseball for four years at Griffin. "We were all like, 'Man!'"
From then on, it was all baseball, all the time. Jeremy, a senior second baseman at Georgia Southern who will likely be a second-day draft pick this year, would drive Tim down to the Griffin fields for hours during the offseason and hit, field and run.
"[Jeremy] has been a great inspiration in my life," Tim says.
Summers were spent playing nearly every day, either in national all-star games or for the Atlanta Blue Jays, an elite World Wood Bat Association travel squad. The buzz among scouts started during the summer after his sophomore year, and it has reached a crescendo heading into the draft. He has signed a letter-of-intent with USC, but there is very little chance that Beckham will go to college, especially if he is the top pick.
"It would be great [to be picked first] since I've worked this hard to be the No. 1 pick and be the No. 1 player in the country," Beckham says. "But it is not that big of a deal if they pick somebody else. I'm still going to work the same and keep my same approach."
Beckham will spend draft day with friends, family and teammates at the GTO Events Center in Griffin. Projections range from No. 1 to No. 5, and once he gets drafted, he's says he's going to be ready to go.
"All I'm going to be thinking about is when I'm going to sign and when I'm going to start playing," he says. "I'm ready to get started."