The Chicago White Sox selected Gordon Beckham 8th overall in the 2008 MLB first-year player draft. It was the Sox first top 10 pick in 17 years.
There are concerns that Beckham won't be able to stick at short in the pros, but with a dearth of positional talent, especially up the middle, in the minor leagues Beckham immediately becomes the Sox best position prospect.
Beckham’s outstanding junior year has been light-years ahead of anything he did in his first two college seasons. He was not even considered a guaranteed first round pick before the season began and was undrafted out of high school. He is a line-drive hitter who knows how to work the count. Beckham has average power but is not a home run hitter, although he did lead the Cape Cod League in homers last summer. He knows how to steal bases thanks to good instincts but has only average speed. Some project him as a second baseman because he may become too big for shortstop where his arm is average and his range is above average. Think Aaron Hill.
MLB.com posted a scouting video (wmv link) of beckham from last summer in the Cape Cod League. My initial impression of the video was that his swing was freakin' ugly. I called it Brian Andersonesque, which shouldn't inspire any confidence. The good news is that video is almost 11 months old. And one look at Beckham's stats progression in his three seasons at Georgia indicates that he's made considerable adjustments since even last summer.
If there's one thing that I look for in the stats of a prospect, it's improvement from year-to-year. And Beckham clearly has improved considerably over a guy who wasn't drafted out of HS. Here's MLB's more recent scouting report on Beckham.
Obviously, I'd be happier if their was a slam dunk, up the middle, 5-tooler available with the 8th overall pick, but you have to pretty happy getting a college player of the year candidate at a premium defensive position.
The Skinny: Everyone loves players at premium positions who can swing the bat and Beckham fits that description perfectly. There’s some question as to whether he can remain at shortstop, but he continues to answer any and all questions about whether his college production at the plate is for real, as he’s put up a huge season at Georgia. He may be a fringy shortstop, and not every scout is sold on his sometimes awkward swing mechanics, but Beckham put up some big numbers with wood bats in the Cape League and has done all he can to prove he can be an everyday big league bat up the middle.Pros: Bat/Power/Position Combo
Cons: Swing Mechanics, Can he play SS?
Comparison: Michael Young with less batting average
Adjusted OFP: 58