April 4, 2008


Bash It Like Beckham

By Andrew Finley



Nobody has ever questioned the talent of Georgia star shortstop Gordon Beckham.


The Atlanta native could have gone to powers like Georgia Tech and South Carolina, eventually settling on Georgia, where he has been the starting shortstop since arriving on campus. His coach in the prestigious Cape Cod League said he was easily one of the Top 10 talents there.


After two good, but unspectacular years, Beckham has exploded as one of the best players in college baseball this year. His 15 home runs through just 27 games are already more than he hit as a sophomore and have him on pace to top 30.


“Gordon has always had all the tools,” Georgia coach David Perno said. “He has just put it all together. He is more mature as a baseball player. He has taken more of a leadership role, too.”


“As a freshman and sophomore, I was just playing on straight talent,” said Beckham, who was an everyday starter both years. However, during his stint with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, something clicked for Beckham.


“Everybody [scouts and coaches] said he just wanted to pull the ball,” Yarmouth-Dennis coach Scott Pickler said. However, Beckham arrived in Massachusetts ready to work hard on his approach at the plate, and by the end of the season was a much more complete hitter.


The new approach has continued as Beckham's .435 average this season is nearly 130 points better than last season's .307 mark. He has also struck out just 11 times, while walking 15 times for a .515 on-base percentage.


“He's a better two-strike hitter,” Perno said. “He's got a lot more walks and his strikeouts are down.”


“I made like 11 errors during the first week,” Beckham said of the Cape. “I had to settle down and just figure it out.”


He seems to have figured it out, as he has committed just two errors nearly midway through the season after making 16 errors in 2007.


Beckham describes himself as someone “who plays the game the right way and enjoys it, and is pretty hard-nosed.”


His coaches agree. Pickler credited Beckham's enthusiasm for some of the strides he made during his time on the Cape. Pickler was especially impressed that Beckham was so willing to work on his weaknesses because many of the talented players who arrive on the Cape have trouble focusing on them.


Georgia is enjoying Beckham's success and leadership, standing 17-10 and off to a 6-3 start in SEC play after finishing a disappointing 23-33 in 2007. Beckham thinks this year's Bulldogs are more talented than the team that made it to the College World Series his freshman year.


“We have the talent to go all the way,” Beckham said. “When we went to Omaha we weren't this good.” However, they need for it to all come together and get hot at the right time.


“We have to show it [our talent] down the stretch, and we could go all the way.”