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Beckham among Rays' roster cuts

Beckham among Rays' roster cuts

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Shortstop Tim Beckham highlighted the first round of Grapefruit League cuts made by the Rays on Thursday.

After the Rays' 4-1 win over the Blue Jays, manager Joe Maddon stayed late to tell Beckham and Nevin Ashley that they and Jake McGee had been reassigned to Minor League camp.

Beckham, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, was the youngest player in Rays camp at age 20. He hit .250 in seven games this spring while playing a solid shortstop.

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"I feel good -- I felt comfortable at the plate every at bat," Beckham said. "I squared a couple of balls up, so it's all I could pretty much ask for."

Beckham, recently ranked by MLB.com as the 24th-best prospect in the Majors, appeared to be far more relaxed this spring than he was last year during his first Spring Training in Major League camp.

"It's crazy how much more comfortable you can play than when you're timid," Beckham said. "You're playing like you're scared to mess up."

Beckham seemed excited to be heading to Minor League camp, which ultimately will help his development.

"It's all good -- you have to look at it on the good side," Beckham said. "I'll get more at-bats, see more pitches in Minor League camp. I'll just go about it the same way there. I'll go down to Minor League camp, keep getting better and hopefully be here more than likely pretty soon."

McGee remains one of the organization's top pitching prospects despite having undergone Tommy John surgery in 2008. On Thursday, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound left-hander finished out the game and his spring with the Rays by pitching a scoreless two innings, finishing with a 0.00 ERA in 4 1/3 innings this Grapefruit League season.

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"I've been feeling good all spring," McGee said. "All the work I've been doing the last two years is paying off finally. ... Especially my curveball getting a lot better, too. It's been getting really good this spring."

Whether McGee ends up in the bullpen or starting rotation when he reaches the Major Leagues remains to be seen, but he will begin stretching out to serve as a starter once he reports to Minor League camp.

"They said I'm going to start for a while and keep that mind-set, since I've been a starter my whole career," McGee said. "But I'm sure if they need me, they might put me in the bullpen. They're just telling me to work as a starter and get all of my pitches [fastball, curveball, changeup] working pretty much."

On the heels of a nice campaign this past offseason in the Arizona Fall League, Ashley hit .500 this spring in two at-bats. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound catcher hit .212 at Double-A Montgomery and .240 at Class A Charlotte last year and was sent to Arizona in the hope that he would show some improvement with his bat. He did just that, hitting .366 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 18 games, including a 17-game hitting streak.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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