11 Nov Nick Gordon named Minnesota Twins top prospect by Baseball America
Baseball America ranked shortstop Nick Gordon the top prospect in the Minnesota Twins organization in the latest Top 10 rankings published on November 11. The Avon Park native recently turned 21 years old and is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League with other top prospects. Baseball America wrote:
Background: The son of righthander Tom Gordon—who pitched parts of 21 seasons in the big leagues—and the younger half-brother of Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon, Nick benefits from significant major league bloodlines. The Twins drafted him fifth overall in 2014 and signed him for $3.581 million, making Gordon the first high school position player selected that year. The top prep shortstop in his class, Gordon could’ve also followed in his father’s footsteps. He showed a low-90s fastball and flashes of a curveball—Tom’s signature pitch—in the summer showcase circuit. Instead, the Twins have groomed Gordon as a shortstop, and he continues to learn the nuances of the position. Gordon built on a solid 2015 season at low Class A Cedar Rapids, during which he batted .277/.336/.360, with a near identical offensive stat line at high Class A Fort Myers in 2016. However, Gordon recorded a .530 OPS against lefthanders and made 24 errors at shortstop—two areas he’ll look to improve as he moves up the ladder in the Twins organization. Gordon finished 2016 on a strong note with Surprise of the Arizona Fall League, where he made the circuit’s all-star team.
Scouting Report: Unlike his half-brother Dee, Nick doesn’t boast off-the-charts speed or athleticism; he’s average in both categories. As such, some scouts outside of the organization view him as more of a second baseman. The Twins believe he has the aptitude, instincts and short-area quickness to stick at short, but he’ll need to continue to put in the time to learn hitters, properly position himself and refine his footwork. His success at shortstop will depend on his preparation. By most accounts, he has a strong work ethic. Gordon’s plus arm strength is his greatest asset, though he did have throwing issues at times in 2016, contributing to his error total, which ranked fourth among Florida State League shortstops. Offensively, Gordon shows strength and bat speed in his lefthanded, line-drive swing as well as an ability to hit to all fields. His power is geared for the gaps at present, but he should put more balls over the fence as he develops physically. With good hand-eye coordination and barrel awareness, Gordon is generally a disciplined hitter, but he also gives away at-bats on occasion, and the Twins want him to take care of his plate appearances with a little more focus and concentration. His issues against lefthanded pitchers in 2016 are worth watching, though he’s shown better splits in the past and he could improve against lefties with repetition.
The Future: Gordon’s game is predicated more on fundamentals than flash, and he’ll need to continue to refine those fundamentals for him to stick at shortstop. Gordon’s instincts and feel for the game are ahead of many players his age—thanks in part to his big league genetics—and that aptitude helps him play above his raw tools. The Twins have had 10 different starters on Opening Day at shortstop since 2005, and they will start Gordon at Double-A Chattanooga in 2017 with the hopes he’ll end their revolving door at shortstop soon.