Gordon Beckham Needs Time, And Lots Of It

Sox need to be patient with prospect's progress

If there's one mistake some baseball teams make more frequently than others, it's in development. How do you treat your prospects? How do you help them get better? At what point do you consider them ready for the big leagues? How does your system tailor itself to the needs of your players, each of whom has a different body type, different skills, and a different timetable for professional success?

When teams can't confidently answer these questions -- and just as we'd all be surprised how much money goes into talent development in baseball, we'd all be shocked at how much of it is wasted -- they make mistakes on prospects. When teams make mistakes on prospects, they lose the best value proposition in baseball: cheap, young, top-level talent approaching its prime. Signing free agents is never as good a deal as drafting and developing talent.

Which is why the Sox desperately need to get Gordon Beckham's first foray into the Major Leagues correctly. Beckham is an immensely talented player. When the Sox called him up, it was deserved -- he hit .326 with 26 doubles in 45 minor-league games before the call-up. But in his first two games, Beckham went 0-6, and looked especially bad on Saturday, seeing only three pitches in his three at-bats. The player who replaced him, Josh Fields, went 2-for-4 with a home run.

Already, it feels like a crucial juncture in Beckham's development. Ozzie benched Beckham after two games. Is that something that will continue? At what point do the Sox want to throw caution to the wind -- let's be honest, it's not like this team was hitting before, anyway -- and let Beckham take his lumps in the lineup. At what point will too many consecutive outs start to hurt the prospect's confidence?

It's almost impossible to ever know, but if there's a default stance here, it's that Beckham needs time. The Sox have made a commitment to him. It takes tons of at-bats to adjust to professional pitching. And it takes lots of at-bats to accurately assess talent. If Guillen is going to yank Beckham from the starting lineup every time he has a couple of rough games, neither outcome is happening any time soon.

Gordon Beckham has a ton of talent. What he needs is time. Time, and patience.

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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