Gordon Beckham was the eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft after a standout college career at Georgia, made quick work of the minors before debuting for the White Sox in mid-2009 at age 22, and hit .270 with an .808 OPS as a rookie.
He looked like a potential star and at the very least a long-term building block for the White Sox, but in two-plus seasons and 289 total games since then he’s hit just .237. And it’s getting worse, as his OPS dropped from .808 to .695 to .633, and so far this season Beckham is 3-for-26 (.115) with 11 strikeouts.
Hitting coach Jeff Manto told Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago that he’s working with Beckham to correct some poor mechanics:
What we are trying to do with him is slow his body down. He is really anxious right now. He is charging into balls and just mis-hitting them. The way we slow him down is keep him tall and make him believe what he has now is enough.
Levine notes that Manto was hired in part because general manager Ken Williams felt the team, and specifically Beckham, needed to hear a new voice after working with former hitting coach Greg Walker for so long. Low expectations for the White Sox in general and the lack of a top prospect waiting in the wings at second base should give Beckham a pretty long leash, but Manto definitely has a tough case on his hands.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.