Draft VI: Shumway, Shumhow

That's a pretty weak title, but when a player shares the same first name as ALF, I have little choice.

Before the season started, Gordon Beckham was Baseball America's 24th-best prospect for the 2008 draft, but he's rocketed up the list with his fantastic season. He has "all-around" tools, but nothing "explosive." Reading up on Beckham's scouting reports, I picture those fashionista dorks on E! or VH1 who go on-camera to talk about Paris Hilton's "wow factor", like...

"I see the steak, Gordon, but where's the sizzle?" said Vuie Scoutytype, peering over his horn-rimmed glasses and adjusting his ridiculous shirt. "I just need something...I need something more if I'm going to be paying all that money to be on the train to Gordonville."

But that's not entirely fair, as you can see why folks are skeptical about his power. Here's a YouTube selection with a bunch of Beckham clips, including a slow-motion replay of a home run swing (4:05). I like that he can get to that inside pitch, but if he uses that swing on that pitch in the majors, it'd be hard to imagine anything but a pop-up. And if G. Beckham doesn't hit for power, he still might be a nice player, but nothing near what you should expect from the fifth-overall pick.

The aforementioned steak, however, is a reference to the freaking year he's having. He's slowed down a bit, but he entered the postseason with a .394/.507/.798 line. He has almost as many home runs (23) as strikeouts (27). He can take a walk, and he can steal a base. That makes him half-interesting to the Giants for the wrong reason, but we'll take a patient hitter if we have to use speed to sneak him in. All this, and he plays shortstop too? I have my credit card out already.

Point: He's generating all of his power from a six-foot/185-pound frame. Imagine when he fills out!

Counterpoint: His swing isn't exactly traditional. If he needs to adjust it, do you trust the Giants' organization to be the ones who help him?

Point: He did well in the wood-bat Cape Cod League, so I wouldn't freak out about his swing just yet. Even if he settles in as a 15- or 20-homer shortstop, that still gives the Giants a huge roster-building advantage over most other teams.

Counterpoint: The difference between prime Rich Aurilia (non-2001 division) and the average schlub at short is significant, but so is the difference between Willie McCovey and Nate Colbert. If you pass on a top-of-the-draft first baseman for a 15- or 20-homer shortstop, you'll probably end up kicking yourself. And some people are worried that he won't even stick at short.

Point: What's the worst that can happen? He moves to third? Please, the Giants could use help there, too.

Counterpoint: His bat isn't the quasi-guarantee you want from the fifth pick, especially if he doesn't stick at short.

Point: He'll stick. Just like that manslaughter charge of yours.

Counterpoint: Oh, I see how it is. Okay, Kreskin, if you knew that my famed "balloon full o' bees"-gag would cause a fatal traffic accident, why didn't you stop me? Hmmm?

If you're new to the site, see, Point is married to Counterpoint, and they are always bickering, and they...ah, forget it. Just know that it used to be funny to some people.

Conclusion: I'm deeply in love with the idea of an offensive-minded shortstop. We were spoiled with Rich Aurilia for a good stretch, even when you don't take his silly 2001 season into account. Beckham could be better, and should move quicker than Aurilia did. Still, I'm not entirely sold on Beckham with the fifth pick, and that's only because I don't trust the Giants organization to develop anything but a fully formed hitter. As with everyone profiled so far, however, if the Giants take him, I'll be thrilled. We should be an easy bunch to please with this draft, at least in the short-term.

Links:

Camden Depot profile
Draft report from MLB.com
UGA bio with Cainesque photo.
MVN profile
Bio from his side job as CEO of an outsourcing firm

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