Gordon Beckham was supposed to be the face of the Chicago White Sox after they selected him in the first round of the 2008 amateur draft out of Georgia. This highly-touted prospect sped through the White Sox farm system and made his major league debut with the team in June of 2009, less than one year after being drafted.
That rookie season for Beckham saw him showcase why he was considered a steal at the eighth pick in the draft, as he hit .270 with 14 home runs and 63 RBI—good enough for fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting.
What made this even more impressive was Beckham, a shortstop in college, had to learn a new position (he was moved to third base) against the toughest competition he had ever faced.
It appeared that the White Sox had found their franchise player in Beckham. But the 2010 season was not kind to Gordon. He began the season mired in a hitting slump that saw his average drop below .200 multiple times and had Sox fans wondering what was happening to their superstar in waiting.
A respectable second half of the season made the back of his baseball card look respectable. He managed to bring his average up over .250, but his home run and RBI total had dropped from his impressive rookie campaign.
Some of his defenders chalked it up to the legendary sophomore slump that pro athletes are accustomed to suffering while others said it was the second positional move in two years, from third to second base, that caused Beckham to struggle. They cited his improved offense in the second half of the season as him being comfortable in the field and being able to concentrate solely on hitting.
The first week-and-a-half of 2011 started off like gangbusters for the White Sox second sacker. He was holding down the two-slot in the batting order, hitting over .300 with a couple long balls and a handful of runs driven in. He was getting on base, scoring runs and helping the Sox win some ball games.
Then, out of nowhere, he started to slump again and has yet to recover. Again, Beckham's defenders came to his rescue by pointing out that he is one of the best defensive second basemen in all of baseball.
The realization of what Gordon Beckham was supposed to be and what he is are going in opposite directions. He went from being the rumored centerpiece of the rumored Adrian Gonzalez to the White Sox deal before the 2010 season to just another guy that plays good defense.
He was as close to untouchable as it came for a prospect, a middle infielder with 20-plus home run potential that plays good defense and has great baseball instincts. His immeasureables were off the charts and it was only a matter of time until he made his first of many all-star teams.
Now we're left to wonder if Gordon Beckham will ever realize his potential or fall into the seemingly bottomless pit of the failed "can't-miss" prospects the White Sox organization has been parading in front of their fans for years.