Nick Gordon: Twins Shortstop Of The Future
The Minnesota Twins have struggled finding a permanent solution at shortstop. Since trading J.J. Hardy to the Orioles during the 2011 off-season, Minnesota has started twelve different players at the position. With no long-term options in the pipeline, the team drafted their franchise shortstop in 2014. Using the 5th pick in the first round, the Twins selected Nick Gordon out of Olympia High School in Orlando Florida.
The son of former All-Star pitcher Tom Gordon and brother to All-Star Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon, Nick has the pedigree to be a perennial All-Star contributor. His father instilled a terrific work ethic to pair with Gordon’s natural ability. To become a Major Leaguer, one has to put in the work. Scouting the Appalachian League for five seasons, no other teenager has worked harder during drills than Nick Gordon.
The Elizabethton Twins shortstop treats every situation like a game situation. Every mistake is analyzed and corrected in real time. And while many players take batting practice seriously, seeing Gordon attack infield drills with passion was refreshing. Will Gordon’s skill, pedigree and work ethic propel him to superstardom?
In person, the 18-year-old looks two inches taller and twenty pounds heavier than his listed height and weight (6’0”, 160 Ibs). Gordon did serious work in the gym last off-season. Well-proportioned throughout, Gordon has room to add another 10-15 pounds on his frame. A premium athlete and plus runner, the left-handed hitter ran a 4.08 through the first base bag on a ground ball up the middle. His base-stealing instincts lag behind the rest of his game (10 Steals in 16 attempts), but the raw speed is there.
Nick has a different profile than his older brother Dee Gordon. Scouting big brother as a 22-year-old in Double-A, the speed of the game was too much for the current All-Star. The older Gordon’s move off of shortstop was due to his being an athlete playing shortstop. Little brother is a better pure defender. Displaying strong body control, soft hands are his best asset. He fields balls out front of his body and flows through the throw towards first base.
Gordon’s arm is a cannon. A two-way player until his junior year, his fastball hit 94 on the radar gun. In drills, the teenager struggled with overthrowing first. After some words from his manager Ray Smith, Gordon made immediate adjustments and brought his throws back in line.
At the plate, the surefire top-100 prospect’s bat is still a work in progress. A fluid load readies the 18-year-old to read the pitch. Impressive bat control is his trademark. When staying short and compact, Gordon has a smooth, line drive swing. However, his hands don’t always stay inside the ball. He struggles extending too early, elongating the swing and negating exceptional bat speed generated by quick hands and wrists. Like most younger prospects, Gordon struggles mightily reading with the spin on breaking balls. Continued repetition will help remedy this issue.
With only ten extra base hits in 217 at bats, power isn’t present in Nick Gordon’s current skill set. The framework’s in place to project future home run pop though. Gordon generates significant power through quick hip rotation, hitting mostly off a rigid front side. Eventually, his upper and lower half will work in unison, resulting in a power spike.
Scouting Byron Buxton as an 18-year-old in the Appy, the Twins top prospect proved unable to generate lift with his bat. Every pitch was pounded in batting practice, but the result was a low line drive or a ground ball. This is the same issue Gordon struggles with. Making solid contact is one thing, but being able to drive the baseball is another. Incorporating lift in his swing will generate higher power outputs.
After years of blah returns, the Twins have rebuilt their farm system. Adding Nick Gordon to a stable of young studs solidifies their standing. Three seasons away from a Big League debut, Gordon has passed Jorge Polanco (2012 Scouting Report) and Eddie Rosario as the Twins top middle infield prospect. Likely to start 2015 with the Midwest League’s Cedar Rapids Kernels, Minnesota’s shortstop of the future will open 2015 one step closer to Target Field.
Tool Present Future Projected Role All-Star Shortstop Hitting Ability 20 55 Power 20 40 Speed 65 60 Fielding Ability 45 55 Arm 70 70
Owning Nick Gordon
Elite shortstops are difficult to find. In dynasty league fantasy baseball drafts, Gordon is a prime candidate for top pick. Given owners should never draft a pitcher number one, owning a premium shortstop of his ilk is more valuable than a pair of former catchers in Alex Jackson and Kyle Schwarber who play less valuable defensive positions. Is Gordon worth trading into the top slot to secure his services? Probably not considering his glove projects to be better than the bat. However, defensive projection equals a high floor and it’s possible to see Nick Gordon eventually rank as the top prospect in baseball similar to Jurickson Profar. While none of Profar’s tools presented as elite, the sum of the parts make him a future star.
27 Aug 2014 / Chris Blessing / 2
1-On-1 ROTO Strategy Session
The Best Of RS
- Can Alex "Chi-Chi" Gonzalez Crack the Texas Rangers Opening Day Rotation?
- Fantasy Baseball Trade Deadline 101: A Former MLB GM’s Take
- Felix Hernandez and Solo Home Run Situations: A Blueprint For Longevity
- JR Graham: Is He Still An MLB Arm For The Atlanta Braves?
- Mason Williams: Is It Time To Label Him A Bust For The Yankees?
- Mike Newman's Top-50 Fantasy Baseball Prospects Scouted in 2014
- Nick Kingham Scouting Report (2014)
- Rangers Joey Gallo, Marlins Giancarlo Stanton And Strikeouts
- The ROTOscouting Baseball Podcast
- Top-10 Fantasy Baseball Prospects By Team
- Will Mike Moustakas Finally Put It Together Next Season?