Gordon Beckham and other top White Sox prospects of recent memory

The end of the Gordon Beckham era brought with it a little bit of nostalgia around these parts. After all, Beckham was supposed to be The Next Big Thing.

Until the White Sox drafted Carlos Rodon at No. 3 overall, Beckham was the most recent Top 10 pick by the White Sox when they took him at No. 8 in 2008. After an impressive 430-at-bat debut in 2009 at the young age of 22, it was assumed he would be a stalwart at one of the infield positions for the foreseeable future.

As we now know, things didn't work out as planned. But it got me wondering about other former top White Sox prospects and where Beckham fits in with the rest.

Beckham was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 20 prospect in all of baseball entering the 2009 season. From 2004 to 2012, the White Sox had 20 different players ranked in BA's Preseason Top 100. Some worked out better than others, but let's take a look.

Note: Prospects from 2004-2012 were used as the book is still out on players from the 2013 and 2014 lists and anything prior to 2004 is ancient history at this point.

Never reached the majors

Kris Honel

BA ranking: 55 in 2004
How acquired: 1st round pick of 2001 draft
WAR with White Sox: N/A
Career WAR: N/A

Honel ranks as one of the biggest disappointments of the last decade, failing to reach the majors despite being the No. 16 pick in 2001. He remained in the White Sox organization through 2007.

It's probably time to give up, eh?

Jared Mitchell

BA ranking: 55 in 2010
How acquired: 1st round of 2009 draft
WAR with White Sox: N/A
Career WAR: N/A

I'm pretty confident that Mitchell will join Honel in the "never reached the majors" category. But who knows? I guess he could get a call in September. He IS still on the 40-man roster for some reason.

Mitchell showed up on BA's Top 100 after an impressive, short stint at Class-A Kannapolis following being picked 23rd overall. It has been all downhill from there, however. A torn ankle tendon cost him the 2010 season and while he looked good at times in lower classes, each time he's reach Triple-A has been a disaster. He started 2014 at Double-A and, after looking good there yet again, was promoted back to Triple-A where he's hitting .237/.360/.392.

Good, but with someone else

Brandon McCarthy

BA ranking: 49 of 2005 draft
How acquired: 1st round of 2002 draft
WAR with White Sox: 2.2 in parts of two seasons
Career WAR: 10.1 and counting

Looking back, McCarthy feels like one of those prospects who seemed better than he actually was because White Sox fans overrated his potential. Ya know, like every Yankees prospect ever? The fact that he debuted during the 2005 World Series run didn't help the matter, but when the White Sox finally dealt him in 2006 for a pair of unknowns (we'll get to one of them later), it felt like an odd gamble.

McCarthy's put together a nice, if not unspectacular, career, seeing blips of success during stints in Texas, Oakland, Arizona, and most recently New York.

Gio Gonzalez

BA ranking: 72 in 2007
How acquired: 1st round of 2004 draft and in 2006 with the Phillies for Freddy Garcia
WAR with White Sox: N/A
Career WAR: 16.1 and counting

Some might forget that the White Sox traded away the two-time All-Star not once, but twice. First, Gonzalez was traded to Philadelphia along with Aaron Rowand in the deal that netted them Jim Thome. Then, after re-acquiring Gonzalez (and Gavin Floyd) for Freddy Garcia, the White Sox sent him away again in a deal with Oakland for Nick Swisher.

Dwelling over missed opportunities from long ago is mostly a silly and frustrating exercise, but Gonzalez sure would look nice in a White Sox uniform nowadays.


Ryan Sweeney

BA rankings: 42 in 2005, 92 in 2006, 55 in 2007
How acquired: 2nd round of 2003 draft
WAR with White Sox: -0.7 in parts of two seasons
Career WAR: 6.6 and counting

The thing that excited me about Sweeney is that when he came up it was right toward the end of the Scott Podsednik era and he looked just like Podsednik at the plate. So naturally, we were getting another Podsednik, right?

Wrong, of course. Sweeney spent parts of two seasons in Chicago before being dealt in 2008 in the deal that netted the White Sox Nick Swisher. He's been an adequate fourth outfielder for a myriad of teams throughout his career (currently with the Cubs). So that's fine, I guess. But nothing special.

Daniel Hudson

BA ranking: 66 in 2010
How acquired: 5th round of 2008 draft
WAR with White Sox: 0.2 in parts of two seasons
Career WAR: 4.7 and maybe counting?

Hudson showed flashes of being really good during short stints with the White Sox so many worried they were fleeced when he was traded to Arizona in 2010 for Edwin Jackson.

While Jackson was fine but not spectacular during his time on the south side, Hudson looked great for a short time in 2010 and all of 2011. Injuries, however, have derailed his career and while he's still the property of the Diamondbacks, he hasn't pitched at the major league level since 2012. If not for that, he'd likely rank in the category with McCarthy and Gonzalez.

Served his purpose

Aaron Poreda

BA ranking: 63 in 2009
How acquired: 1st round of 2007 draft
WAR with White Sox: 0.4 in part of one season
Career WAR: 0.4

Poreda arguably belongs in the "Meh" category, as many consider the tenure of Jake Peavy (whom the White Sox acquired in a deal for Poreda) to be mostly a failure. But then I started thinking more into it and realized that if the White Sox didn't acquire Peavy, they wouldn't have acquired Avisail Garcia last season. Stretch? Absolutely. But this is my list so I'll do what I want.

Injuries shelved Poreda for the better part of this decade, but he recently reemerged as a member of the Texas Rangers' bullpen for a spell this season. 

Jeremy Reed

BA ranking: 25
How acquired: 2nd round pick of 2002 draft
WAR with White Sox: N/A
Career WAR: 2.0 in eight seasons

Reed never ended up playing an inning with the White Sox, as they traded him during the 2004 season in a deal that netted them Freddy Garcia. Considering Garcia won 2005's World Series clincher, I'd say that deal worked out pretty well.

Reed bounced around a bit during eight major league seasons, but hasn't played this season after being released by the Diamondbacks last season.

Addison Reed

BA ranking: 66 in 2012
How acquired: 3rd round of 2010 draft
WAR with White Sox: 1.3 in three seasons
Career WAR: Still 1.3, actually

I wrote about last offseason's trade of Reed for Matt Davidson in great detail last month, so I won't belabor the point. But the fact remains that the White Sox turned an average reliever with big save numbers for another Top 100 prospect with at least some semblance of potential. That's a good deal to me.

Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad players

Brian Anderson

BA rankings: 37 in 2005, 51 in 2006
How acquired: 1st round pick of 2003 draft
WAR with White Sox: -0.1 in five seasons
Career WAR: -0.2 in five seasons

Anderson received arguably the most hype of any prospect the White Sox promoted during the last decade. While he may not have had the upside of some of the other guys on this list, he entered 2006 as the starting center fielder for the defending World Series champions. And making matters worse, he was replacing a fan favorite in Aaron Rowand.

Anderson, of course, never panned out. After posting a .652 OPS in 862 plate appearances, the White Sox finally cut ties with him in 2009 when he was dealt to Boston for Mark Kotsay. He only garnered another 21 plate appearances in his major league career.

Josh Fields

BA rankings: 95 in 2005, 45 in 2007
How acquired: 1st round of 2004 draft
WAR with White Sox: -1.4 in four seasons
Career WAR: -1.1

Fields has the lowest career WAR of any player on this list (yes, even more than the next guy). Somehow, though, the White Sox managed to acquire a more frustrating player (Mark Teahen) when they shipped him to Kansas City in 2009.

Dayan Viciedo

BA ranking: 61 in 2009
How acquired: Signed as international free agent in 2008
WAR with White Sox: 0.0 in five-plus seasons
Career WAR: Ditto

Brent Morel

BA ranking: 85 in 2011
How acquired: 3rd round of 2008 draft
WAR with White Sox: 0.6 in five seasons
Career WAR: 0.3

Like Anderson, Morel was in a tough situation because he was filling in for a departed fan favorite in Joe Crede. And like Anderson, Morel did a pretty terrible job of it. Also like Anderson, Morel was thought to be a pretty good fielder who would hopefully come around with the bat. It didn't happen, and after five REALLY LONG seasons of him manning the hot corner when he wasn't hurt, he was DFA'd and picked up by Toronto. He's currently in Pittsburgh's farm system.

Tyler Flowers

BA rankings: 99 in 2009, 60 in 2010
How acquired: Traded by Atlanta in 2008 for Javier Vazquez
WAR with White Sox: 3.2 in six-plus seasons
Career WAR: Ditto

You depressed yet?

Alright, these dudes worked out pretty well

Tadahito Iguchi

BA ranking: 96 in 2005
How acquired: Signed as international free agent in 2005
WAR with White Sox: 5.3 in three seasons
Career WAR: 6.3

OK, this is cheating a little bit. Iguchi was never technically a prospect, but BA is one of the few prospect sites that included rookies-to-be in its rankings even if they were never expected to spend time in the minors (Jose Abreu was ranked No. 29 prior to this season).

Iguchi, of course, spent three fine seasons with the White Sox and was an integral part in the World Series champions during his rookie season. He was 30 years old at the time of his debut, and the White Sox dealt him to Philadelphia in 2007 for something called Michael Dubee. Now 39, he's still collecting paychecks while playing back in Japan.

Bobby Jenks

BA ranking: 24 in 2006
How acquired: Claimed off of waivers from the Angels in 2004
WAR with White Sox: 8.7 in six seasons
Career WAR: That about does it

In another oddity, Jenks' BA ranking actually came AFTER he played the role of hero in the closer's role with the '05 champs since he still had his rookie status entering 2006. While Jenks was never spectacular and acquired most of his fame because of the overrated save statistic, when you have a closer who averages more than one WAR per season, you call that a win.

John Danks

BA ranking: 56 in 2007
How acquired: Traded by Texas in 2006 for Brandon McCarthy
WAR with White Sox: 21.3 in eight-plus seasons
Career WAR: The same and counting (backward, anyway)

Because watching Danks pitch has become so depressing nowadays, many forget how good he actually was at a young age. When the White Sox acquired him in 2006 for McCarthy, it was easy to forget they were getting a guy who was recently drafted No. 9 overall.

Danks put together three season north of 5.0 WAR before his arm fell off and made us all cry.

Chris Sale Division

Chris Sale

BA ranking: 20 in 2011
How acquired: 1st round of 2010 draft
WAR with White Sox: 21.7 in five-plus seasons
Career WAR: Going up, up, up

Yeah, he gets his own division. What of it?

The biggest disappointment

Gordon Beckham

BA ranking: 20 in 2009
How acquired: 1st round of 2008 draft
WAR with White Sox: 5.8 in six seasons
Career WAR: I don't think it's moved much in a few days

Maybe this isn't fair. After all, Beckham has more career WAR as a member of the White Sox than all but three players on this list. But unlike guys like Honel, Mitchell, Fields and even Viciedo, Beckham was heralded as a guy with the potential to make multiple All-Star teams.

When coming out, comps like Michael Young and Chase Utley were being thrown out by reputable scouts, and his No. 20 spot in BA's 2009 rankings placed him higher than any of the aforementioned players (tied with Sale).

The expectations that come with being a Top 10 draft pick mean you're judged differently, which is why we (or at least I) view the Beckham era differently than that of Fields or Morel.

Like I said, it's not always fair. Beckham is far from the worst player on this list. But most disapponting? Absolutely.

Please don't join this list in a few years, Carlos Rodon.


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