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  • Twins Draft Preview: Nick Gordon

    Arguably, it's been quite a long time since the Twins have employed a franchise-type player at the most important position on the diamond, shortstop (I'll leave J.J. Hardy out of this conversation). Since 2004 when Christian Guzman last manned the position, the Twins have sent players such as Jason Castro, Jason Bartlett, Nick Punto, Matt Tolbert, Adam Everett, Orlando Cabrera, Alexi Casilla, Trevor Plouffe, Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon, and Eduardo Escobar out there for extended playing time, to extremely underwhelming results (recent play of Escobar notwithstanding).

    The Twins could do well to change this organizational shortcoming with the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, where there are a few highly touted players at this position, including North Carolina State’s Trea Turner. But there is another shortstop with whom, leading up to the draft, rumors of connections with the Twins have been much louder. That has been with Windermere, FL high schooler, Nick Gordon.

    Photo by Rinaldi Photos

    Who is this guy?

    A conversation about Gordon should almost certainly start with a look at his pedigree. He is the younger brother of current MLB second-baseman Dee Gordon of the Dodgers and son of former MLB reliever, Tom “Flash” Gordon.

    Much like his brother Dee, Nick has above-average speed and came up playing shortstop, but that is nearly where the similarities end. The difference between them has been Nick’s bat, which took a big step forward in 2014 after he added some strength to his upper body. This has made him a far more highly regarded draft prospect than Dee, who was selected by the Dodgers in the fourth round of the 2008 draft.

    While he shares the position (Dee was drafted as a shortstop) and speed similarities with his brother, Nick also possesses one of the draft’s best infield arms, which came courtesy of his father, “Flash.” On a high school mound Nick touches the mid-90’s, and translates this arm strength easily to the shortstop position. Scouts also praise Gordon’s instincts for the position, and he carries far fewer doubts about his long term outlook to stay at short than the usual prep player. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com echoed these thoughts recently while discussing Gordon for the Chicago Cubs at pick number four: “It's a common situation every year to see players who man shortstop as amateurs but aren't expected to stay there long-term as professionals. Gordon, without a doubt, will play shortstop at the highest level. He has the arm, the hands and the range to be an outstanding defender at short.”

    Why the Twins will pick him

    In their recent history, if the Twins have targeted a high school position player early in the draft, it’s been for players who have had potential with their bat (Travis Harrison) or great athleticism (Niko Goodrum) for their position and it can be said that Gordon possesses both these qualities. Add the fact that the Twins have been devoid of a long-term solution at shortstop for ten years now, and it’s hard to miss why the Twins might be in on him.

    Gordon is a left-handed batter who is praised more for gap-to-gap power than raw power potential that he could grow into, but this is also what makes him more appealing if you’re looking for a shortstop. Even though he added strength to his 6’2” frame, he's been described as having such a “wiry” build that onlookers don’t see him outgrowing the position or his athleticism for it.

    When you combine all these elements, you get a premium prospect at a premium position who definitely deserves a long look.

    Why the Twins will not pick him

    If you believe most of the rumblings, only selecting one of the top pitchers (Aiken, Kolek, Rodon, or Nola) may prevent the Twins from selecting Gordon.

    The Twins do already have a few intriguing middle infield prospects in their farm system, including Jorge Polanco, Niko Goodrum, and the Twins recent spark plug, Danny Santana. But all these players have questions related to their long-term outlook at shortstop or have already played considerable innings at other positions.

    Though the comments above do temper this next concern, it does always exist in some capacity if the expectation of drafting a high schooler is for him to stick at shortstop. It simply is a rarity that any of them make it to the big leagues in that capacity or develop the hitting skills to stay there in the majors. His own brother has certainly been a prime example. This has also been the case for the Twins with players like Casilla, Plouffe, Dozier and Florimon reaching the big leagues at short, but not sticking for long.

    If there isn't another player atop the Twins board at number five, it’s likely none of these reasons would deter them from adding one of the best high school position players available in 2014 to the organization.


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    Comments 19 Comments
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      No problem taking Gordon but I will say Escobar has been a pleasant surprise. I was not high on him when we got him but he has won me over for the time being. Santana also looks like he could stick. Best part is I really haven't seen a drop off in defense since Florimon left. These guys have turned a huge weakness into a strength. Hopefully they can keep it up.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Escobar is just fine as a starting shortstop. Santana could be ok if things pan out. Polanco could play there. Goodrum...

      But you always draft best available player because in 4-6 years, when Gordon is ready to debut, we don't know if the Twins will have a shortstop. We don't know anything about where they'll be in four years besides, hopefully, in center field where two years ago, the Twins took a guy at a position said to have plenty of depth because they were convicted in the thought that Mr. Buxton was the best player available.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      You can never have enough pitching. Hope the Twins will take one of the top 3 if they fall to them. Not sold on Nola as scouts have him rated anywhere from a two on down. If one of the big three are not there hope the Twins will take either Jackson or Gordon, though neither is a lock.
      Only edge Nola has is that he could be here by 2016, that could be huge.
    1. AM.'s Avatar
      AM. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      ....because they were convicted in the thought that Mr. Buxton was the best player...
      I think half of Twins Daily is facing prison time...
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Escobar is just fine as a starting shortstop. Santana could be ok if things pan out. Polanco could play there. Goodrum...

      But you always draft best available player because in 4-6 years, when Gordon is ready to debut, we don't know if the Twins will have a shortstop. We don't know anything about where they'll be in four years besides, hopefully, in center field where two years ago, the Twins took a guy at a position said to have plenty of depth because they were convicted in the thought that Mr. Buxton was the best player available.
      I have heard our board has the three pitchers (Aiken, Rodon, Kolek), then Gordon. So we probably end up with Gordon (I think Jackson will go ahead of Gordon)
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      The real quesiton here is this: Can he play CF?
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Its true Seth, Injuries, free agency, position changes all argue that you don't draft out of need. Mauer came up when we had a very solid catcher in AJ and though some may not think so now it worked out pretty well for us.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dantes929 View Post
      Its true Seth, Injuries, free agency, position changes all argue that you don't draft out of need. Mauer came up when we had a very solid catcher in AJ and though some may not think so now it worked out pretty well for us.
      I am guessing Prior's career WAR is much higher.

      HOF caliber numbers:

      59% winning percentage. 3.51 career ERA, 1.22 WHIP. 10.4 K per 9.
    1. twinsguy14's Avatar
      twinsguy14 -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
      I am guessing Prior's career WAR is much higher.

      HOF caliber numbers:

      59% winning percentage. 3.51 career ERA, 1.22 WHIP. 10.4 K per 9.
      Doesn't anyone remember that Prior would not come here?? As per USA Today June 17, 2010... "Prior made it clear, through his father, Jerry, that he wanted nothing to do with the Twins. Jerry Prior was emphatic that his son would not be signing with Minnesota..."
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
      I am guessing Prior's career WAR is much higher.

      HOF caliber numbers:

      59% winning percentage. 3.51 career ERA, 1.22 WHIP. 10.4 K per 9.
      Prior only pitched for five years.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Not sure, Dave....but I think there was sarcasm in tobi0040's post........
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Not sure, Dave....but I think there was sarcasm in tobi0040's post........
      Bingo.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      In the draft thread several people brought up the poor draft history of drafting HS SS and them actually sticking at the position. Looking at the last 4 drafts here are the HS SS drafted:

      2010
      Manny Machado (3rd)
      Cito Culver (33nd)

      2011
      Fransico Lindor (8th)
      Javier Baez (9th)
      Jake Hager (32nd)

      2012
      Carlos Correa (1st)
      Addison Russell (11th)
      Gavin Cecchini (12th)
      Corey Seager (18th)

      2013
      J.P. Crawford (16th)
      Christian Arroyo (25th)

      Machado has been playing 3B but that is because of Hardy not the lack of ability to play the position. Culver/Hager/Arroyo were all selected outside of the top 20 with Arroyo being considered the biggest reach in the draft last year. Law just released his updated top 25 and here are how the others did. Correa #2, Russell #5, Lindor #6, Baez #9, Seager # 11, and Crawford # 19. Seager was pegged when drafted to move off the position with Correa/Baez being players who might out grow the position in the future. Pretty solid group.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Mlbtraderumors Q&A with Gordon:

      http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/0...ck-gordon.html
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      But you always draft best available player because in 4-6 years, when Gordon is ready to debut, we don't know if the Twins will have a shortstop.
      Pitching talent is always the coin du realme in the MLB. Right now it looks like the Twins have lots of potential talent in the minors, but history reveals that most of that promise will evaporate somewhere along that long, winding tube before it drips into that big old jug of sweet white lightnin' we all want a taste of.

      We all know Tyler Kolek's got lightning in his bottle, but will it keep for three years while he figures out how to pick corners with a curve? I got my eye on a vintage more like Aaron Nola, dude that's got game right now. Some say it ain't so, but I think Nola will hit the MLB with a shot of strong stuff inside a year.

      Meanwhile, a guy like Nick Gordon could turn out just fine, like a real good beer. But which metaphor tastes better? Which is the heavier figurative boot in the ass of this weak tea of a team?

      You can trade one jug of white lightning for several cases of good beer, not to mention all the weak tea you can stomach. Take a pitcher!
    1. DocBauer's Avatar
      DocBauer -
      I think predicting this draft, from all accounts and rumors I've read, make this a real crapshoot. Lots of talent to be had for sure, but seems to be unpredictable who will take who.

      Really like what I've seen of Escobar so far, a d generally impressed with Santana as well. Their approach at the plate is something I've been watching closely. Neither appears intimidated or "lost" up there, that's especially important to the less experienced Santana. With his bat, we all hope Polanco could be the answer. And while never seeing him in person, I'm not so sure Goodrum isn't the best SS prospect in the system, based on reports.

      But not only has SS been kind of a black hole for a long time, but as smartly pointed out, you not only go for BPA overall, but in 4+ years from now, how can you know what your needs will be. I guess, overall, Gordon has replaced Turner as the best infield talent available, and the direction we will probably go. I just wish I could be a little more excited about his projectability for a #5 pick. I'm not real concerned about plus power in Gordon, but wish his hit and or speed factors rated a little higher.
    1. DJL44's Avatar
      DJL44 -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmb0252 View Post
      NG: I played running back and slot back and safety in football and in basketball I played shooting guard and small forward.l
      From MLBTraderumors interview. Twins love their multisport athletes.
    1. Steve Johnson's Avatar
      Steve Johnson -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
      I am guessing Prior's career WAR is much higher.

      HOF caliber numbers:

      59% winning percentage. 3.51 career ERA, 1.22 WHIP. 10.4 K per 9.
      Lol, no.

      Prior's career WAR is significantly lower than Mauer's. Prior hasn't pitched in the ML for the better half of the past decade.

      Prior's WAR is 15.7, with peak of 7.4 in 2003Mauer's WAR is 44.4, with peak of 7.7 in 2009
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Johnson View Post
      Lol, no.

      Prior's career WAR is significantly lower than Mauer's. Prior hasn't pitched in the ML for the better half of the past decade.

      Prior's WAR is 15.7, with peak of 7.4 in 2003Mauer's WAR is 44.4, with peak of 7.7 in 2009
      Sarcasm alert.
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