CHICAGO – Barely more than a month into his rookie season, it’s much too early to make career predictions for 22-year-old Gordon Beckham, the White Sox third baseman.
But hitting coach Greg Walker already sees more than a faint resemblance to Michael Young, the Texas Rangers third baseman and one-time American League batting champion.
“In body type, natural talent and position, they’re similar,” Walker said before the game Wednesday against Cleveland. “Their swings are a bit different, but there are a lot of things that are alike about them.
“In talent level, Michael Young is one of the elite players and has been for awhile, but that’s the name that other people in the game have mentioned to me. To me, you have to earn the right to be compared to someone of that caliber. Gordon has a long way to catch Michael Young, because he has had a great career.”
Based on what Walker has seen thus far, the coach believed that Beckham had a chance to become a special player in his own right.
“When we drafted Gordon, we believed that his mechanics were good and his talent was elite,” Walker said. “After being around him in spring training, we saw a kid that not only respected the game and his teammates but had an inner confidence about him. That’s the kind of make-up we look for in a player.”
Beckham was recalled went hitless in his first 13 at-bats in the major leagues. His struggles prompted criticism that he had been called up too soon after only 59 games in the minor leagues. Since then, he hit .306 with three home runs and 17 RBI in 25 games.
By comparison, Young was 24 years old when he played his first full season in the major leagues. He .249 with 11 home runs and 49 RBI in 106 games.
“I’m sure there were a lot of people who said, ‘This kid isn’t as good as they thought he would be,’” Walker said. “But in the clubhouse, that wasn’t our thought process. Our belief was that Gordon would have bumps in the road but had the mental make-up to handle them. Our approach was, let him play and see what happens.
“Now you can tell that he’s more comfortable out there. He’s well-liked in the clubhouse. His teammates give him a lot of grief, and he takes it. His confidence doesn’t waver much.”