Gordon Beckham still had more than 48 hours to make a decision, but he knew exactly what he wanted.
The All-American shortstop and the White Sox agreed to terms on a Minor League contract Wednesday, inking Beckham to a $2.6 million signing bonus.
Beckham was the club’s first-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, having been selected eighth overall. The deadline for teams to sign players is Friday at midnight.
There had been some frustration shown in the White Sox corner about the inability to sign Beckham sooner, but the two sides were all smiles Wednesday.
“I didn’t want to take this down to the wire,” said Beckham, who was acquainting himself in person with the Chicago media for the first time. “That’s not my personality. I didn’t want to make the White Sox think I was just holding out for more money. It was one of those things where, personally, I would feel a lot better taking what I did and kind of building a good relationship with them.”
Beckham will report to Class A Kannapolis on Thursday.
Part of the frustration on the White Sox end was the lack of development time Beckham would have in the Minors. Each day he held out meant one less day of development this season.
“I’ll get it back,” Beckham said. “I’ve been playing baseball eight, 10 years in the summer. Toward the end of the round of BP [batting practice], I felt a lot better. It will take a couple of days of live pitching, and I’ll be back.”
Beckham hit .411 with 22 doubles, 28 home runs, 77 RBIs and 17 stolen bases during his junior season at the University of Georgia. He ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in home runs, runs scored, total bases, hits and slugging percentage.
He was ranked by Baseball America as the third-best collegiate athlete in the Draft and the No. 6 Draft prospect overall.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen compared Beckham to the Rangers’ Michael Young after seeing him in the College World Series, where Beckham went 7-for-12 with two home runs and five RBIs.
“I hope I’m Michael Young,” Beckham said. “I hope I get to that level. I think I can. That’s obviously a great compliment from a guy who has been around a long time.”
“I think this kid, it seems like he knows what he’s doing,” Guillen said. “And he got a lot of confidence. He was a good college player, and hopefully he continues to have success. I think he’s not scared. He’s not afraid. I think that’s gonna help him.”
Beckham is a natural shortstop, as Guillen was, but his future in the field is anything but set in stone.
With the recent demotion of Josh Fields, there might be a vacancy for the young infielder at third.
“I’ll let it shake out,” Beckham said. “But I feel like I can play shortstop in the big leagues. I feel like I can do it. It’s the preference of the team, obviously, if they want to keep me there or not. My main goal is to get up here and help the team as much as possible, whether that’s at shortstop or second base or outfield, it doesn’t matter to me.”
Beckham was in Chicago for just the second time in his life Wednesday, the first being 10 years ago, he said, to watch Michael Jordan at the United Center.
Wearing a White Sox uniform and sitting in the dugout at U.S. Cellular Field is a feeling Beckham wants to experience again. And soon.
“I know I have to wait, but I hope I get this uniform on quick,” he said.