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Beckham adjusts, tears up Arizona Fall League
Even as the top-ranked player in the White Sox's farm system, Gordon Beckham recognizes the need for change.
"If you don't adjust, you're not going to play for too long,' Beckham said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.
Thanks to adjustments in his swing, Beckham batted .533 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in his final seven games to finish with a .394 batting average with the Peoria Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League.
Although Beckham prefers to play shortstop—his natural position—he expressed his willingness to change positions if asked and was well aware that 2008 rookie sensation Alexei Ramirez will move from second to short in 2009.
"Whenever they need me, I'll be ready," said Beckham, who was selected as the Sox's top prospect for 2009 by Baseball America magazine.
The AFL experience enhanced Beckham's confidence against some of the top prospects. But he doesn't expect to earn a shot at a major-league job out of spring training and probably is destined to start the 2009 season at Class-A Winston-Salem or Double-A Birmingham.
"They said as soon as I go to minor-league ball, then I'll be playing shortstop every day until they want to bring me up and move me somewhere, or bring me up to play short," said Beckham, who already has worked with new Birmingham manager Ever Magallanes.
Beckham played second and third base as well as shortstop in the AFL. That can't hurt his value to the Sox, who gave him a $2.65 million bonus as the eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft out of the University of Georgia.
And it also helps the Sox's flexibility in the infield. For now, Josh Fields, Wilson Betemit and Dayan Viciedo will compete at third base, with Chris Getz and Jayson Nix battling at second base.
This could buy some time for Beckham, 22, who doesn't have a precise schedule to reach the major leagues but admits his success in the AFL has raised his confidence.
"I hung in there for three to four weeks and maintained my average and kept close to .300. The last two to three weeks, I really went off and had a great end of the season," Beckham said. "More than anything, I got a lot of confidence from that and knowing I can hang with these guys that have been playing in Double and Triple-A for possibly a couple years."
Extra innings: Commentator Darrin Jackson will meet with officials from the new MLB Network this week, and a decision on his status probably will be finalized by the end of next week. Jackson tentatively is scheduled to switch from television commentator to radio analyst for Sox games for the 2009 season. Jackson has worked the past nine seasons on Sox telecasts with Ken Harrelson. If Jackson stays with the Sox, he will be the third partner in as many years with radio play-by-play announcer Ed Farmer.