Lately there have been quite a few disappointments in highly drafted players. It’s why I haven’t been pushing minor leaguers lately in my posts. In my opinion though, have any that have broken in to the major leagues been as disappointing as Gordon Beckham? Drafted eighth overall in the 2008 major league draft. He was seen as a prized second baseman, something of a rarity in highly touted major league prospects. It was a no-brainer for the White Sox since they had obvious needs at the position and he was a pretty polished player coming out of college. He even had the Team USA pedigree behind him.
He rocketed up the White Sox minor league system going through four levels in under one year and playing in just 59 minor league games. His career minor league numbers were 0.322/7/33 with a OBP of 0.374. He landed in Chitown in 2009 and became the face of the future for the team as he went out and hit 0.270/14/63 with 7 stolen bases. Entering 2010 he was one of the most anticipated breakout players in baseball. Everything was set up for him, no spring position battle, all he had to do was hit.
2010 though turned out to be a very disappointing season for him. He just was never able to get in a groove and AL pitchers figured him out. The scouts had seen him as a 0.270 hitter with about 20 homer potential. In 133 games for the Sox that year he hit 0.252/9/49, most troubling was his OBP dropping to 0.317 due mainly to his penchant for striking out. Now we are not talking Mark Reynolds numbers, but he went from a hit:k ration of about 2 down to 1. That is a pretty big swing.
It was said that he did a lot in the 2010 off season to improve his conditioning and batting issues so when 2011 rolled around he was expected to again take the reigns of second base and finally have his break out season. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. 2011 was a season I’m sure he would like to forget. He hit a pedestrian 0.230/10/44 and had an anemic 0.296 OBP. Again his strikout rate was very high and at times he just looked clueless out there at the plate. After the season there were talks of trades and even demotion.
Entering 2012, he is playing for his career. This season will be absolutely critical in whether or not he stays in the majors or just ends up a career backup. It hasn’t started off well, as he is hitting 0.167/0/1 through 36 plate appearances and has struck out a third of the time. He has even been benched, I don’t know what the Sox are going to do, but they can’t afford a repeat of his 2011 campaign, which means a demotion or a trade. It actually makes me sad since he was one of the fasted through the mail signers I have ever had.
Looking towards the future, I don’t see it being very bright for him. I expect at some point this season he is going to get traded and perhaps a change in scenery will help him. It won’t, it never does, instead I think he is backup fodder. If he wants to grind a career out in baseball he’s going to find himself on a team like the Pirates or Royals as a starter. If not he will more than likely become a career backup. I really do hope he can figure his swing out and get back to where the scouts thought he would be. His autographed cards are running about $2 to $4 with patch or low serial numbered cards going for more. He’s definitely a sell at this point as I don’t see him becoming much more than a MLB backup.