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Twins Daily Top Prospects: #3 Nick Gordon

Nick Gordon might be one of the most polarizing prospects in the Minnesota Twins system. All of the national prospect rankings have him in their top-100 lists but he comes in all over the board. Two of the rankings have him at 80 or lower. Meanwhile, two other rankings have him in the top-40.

Gordon hit very well in the season’s first half but he struggled in the closing months of the year. Earlier this off-season, Tom wondered if Gordon’s second half turned him from a prospect to a suspect. When it comes to Twins’ prospects, Gordon is still one of the best in the organization but why are there such differing opinions on the former first round pick?
Age: 22 (DOB: 10/24/1995)
2017 Stats (AA): .270/.341/.408 (.749), 9 HR, 29 2B, 8 3B, 13/20 in stolen base attempts
ETA: 2019
2017 Ranking: 4

National Top 100 Rankings
BA: 93 | MLB : 80 | ESPN: 37 | BP: 35

What’s To Like
Gordon headed to the Arizona Fall League last off-season and got his off-season started on the right foot. In over 90 plate appearances, he slashed .346/.418/.444 while playing over 165 innings at shortstop. He ranked sixth in the league in batting average and on-base percentage. There was only one player younger than Gordon in the top-10 for either of those categories.

During last spring, Nick’s brother Dee Gordon was able to make some predictions about his coming season. “He’s going to be strong. He’s already a lot bigger and stronger than me when I was 21,” he told the Star Tribune. “He’s got a good eye, and you can already see he’s going to develop some power.”

Gordon was able to transition his success in the AFL to the season’s early months. From April through June, he hit .308/.379/.481 with six home runs, 21 doubles and six triples. Twins manager Paul Molitor took notice of Gordon’s offensive abilities. Molitor told the Pioneer Press, “Not surprisingly reports are his bat is still very advanced. We’re trying to make sure the rest of his game catches up, and I think he is making progress in that regard.”

His hot hitting in the season’s early months led to some mid-season awards. Gordon represented the Twins at the Futures Game in Miami and he was a Southern League all-star. By season’s end he had set career highs in home runs (9), doubles (29), triples (8) and slugging percentage (.408).

For the first time in his professional career, Gordon was three years younger than the competition at his level. He only faced off against younger pitchers in 55 at-bats. In those at-bats, he compiled a .955 OPS with eight extra-base hits. As a lefty, hitting against righties was also a strength for him. All nine of his home runs came against right-handed pitching which helped him to post an .822 OPS.

What’s Left To Work On
Defense has always been an area in need of improvement for Gordon. Since the Twins drafted him, there have been questions about whether he would be able to stick at shortstop. A veteran scout watched Gordon in Chattanooga last year and he doesn’t think Gordon can stay at short long-term. “You know how the best fielders always seem to get the good hop?” the scout asked. “Watching Gordon, he never seemed to get the good hop. For him, it was always the in-between hop. That’s instincts. That’s footwork. That’s hands.”

Gordon hasn’t been shy about his defensive future. “The Twins know what they need, they know what they want,” he said. “Whatever they need me to do, whatever they want me to do, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability. It doesn’t matter to me. I just want to play.”

Left-handed pitchers also presented some issues for Gordon. In over 139 plate appearances against lefties, he hit .174/.273/.240 (.513). These totals were very similar to those in his first taste of full season ball in 2016. In those 129 appearances against lefties, he hit .220/.276/.254 (.530). Gordon will need to improve those totals if he wants to break into the big leagues over the next couple of seasons.
Since the Twins signed him, he’s added close to 20 pounds. This has helped him to add some power but not sacrificing speed. He knows the strike zone fairly well but he could continue to improve in this area.

What’s Next
Gordon has yet to repeat a level so that could ticket him to play all of 2018 at Rochester. However, he only turned 22 in October and his hitting decreased significantly at the end of the year. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Twins send him back to the Southern League to get his bat going at the start of 2018. A hot-hitting Gordon could be a prospect to watch in 2018, especially if the Twins fall out of contention.

TD Top Prospects: 16-20
TD Top Prospects: 11-15
TD Top Prospect: #10 Akil Baddoo
TD Top Prospect: #9 Brusdar Graterol
TD Top Prospects: #8 Blayne Enlow
TD Top Prospects: #7 Brent Rooker
TD Top Prospects: #6 Wander Javier
TD Top Prospects: #5 Alex Kirilloff
TD Top Prospects: #4 Stephen Gonsalves
TD Top Prospects: #3 Nick Gordon
TD Top Prospects: #2 Coming Soon...


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50 Comments

Too high for me if all the reports can be believed.It would seem that even within our organization and with one short stop traded for Odorizzi, he number three in the minor league SS depth chart behind Lewis and Wander Javier.I suspect he is closer to the majors right now, but will be passed this year.If I am wrong I will not be bothered, but for rankings I would move him back some.

    • Thrylos and beckmt like this
I’m sure they can find a right hand hitting utility infielder to spell him if need be. So will he be a #2 hitter or a #8?

Just based on proximity to the majors, I think I probably have him ahead of Lewis (although Lewis' upside is much higher). In some ways, Gordon is a blah prospect. He doesn't do anything elite but he does enough of everything that I think he'll end up a strong starting shortstop for several years. If Polanco turns back into a pumpkin, Gordon will take over and play well, I think.

    • Carole Keller and beckmt like this
At this point Gordon's floor is Ehire Adrianza/Pedro Florimon without the glove and in a platoon situation. Unfortunately I am not convinced that his ceiling is higher than a (let's say) Steve Lombardozzi.

Having him at number 3 over players with both higher floor and ceiling makes zero sense.
    • mikelink45 likes this
I doubt Lombardozzi was ever a top prospect in all of baseball......i will never understand the people that are so sure this guy will fall.
    • gunnarthor, beckmt and Taildragger8791 like this

 

I doubt Lombardozzi was ever a top prospect in all of baseball......i will never understand the people that are so sure this guy will fall.

 

Lombardozzi was the Twins' 10th best prospect according to BA in 1983 ,and their 3rd best in 1986 (same link).Gordon was their 8th this season. More similarities among the 2 than you may think...

 

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birdwatcher
Feb 18 2018 06:44 PM

 

Lombardozzi was the Twins' 10th best prospect according to BA in 1983 ,and their 3rd best in 1986 (same link).Gordon was their 8th this season. More similarities among the 2 than you may think...

 

There are fewer similarities between the two than you're suggesting. First off, those rankings really tell you nothing unless you view it within the context of who else was ranked. I'd guess that we'd get universal consensus that Gordon is in a whole lot better company than Lombo was, as he was one of only two prospects from that'86 ranking, along with Alan Anderson, to have any semblance of a MLB career.

 

Personally, I can't think of a single thing about the two that invites comparison. Not skiils, not industry regard, really nothing. I watched Lombo play almost every game during his career year. He was by far the worst position player on the field in most games. There's a reason his career fizzled out very quickly. He languished as a mediocre utility man for the better part of his career.

 

Whether it's at 2nd or SS, most evaluators envision Gordon overcoming his current shortcomings with more seasoning and having a nice long career as a starter. You've been the low man on Gordon for some time, and vocal about it. Are you sure there's objectivity in play regarding your opinion? I mean, other than his choice of a shirt in a video of course.;)

    • Mike Sixel, gunnarthor, pbrezeasap and 7 others like this

 

 

Are you sure there's objectivity in play regarding your opinion?

 

Every opinion by definition, including those of the ones who are high on Gordon, is subjective.

And I am not the only one.Check out Berardino's rating at the BA this offseason

    • birdwatcher likes this
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birdwatcher
Feb 18 2018 07:39 PM

Well, of course. I read the BA rankings for 2018, and the write-ups on Gordon from all the other talent experts too. None of the experts would think that invoking the names of Florimon, Lombardozzi, or Adrianza when describing Gordon's prospects makes a lick of sense, I'm quite positive about that.

    • Mike Sixel, gunnarthor, Tibs and 3 others like this

Lombardozzi was the Twins' 10th best prospect according to BA in 1983 ,and their 3rd best in 1986 (same link).Gordon was their 8th this season. More similarities among the 2 than you may think...


I don't think everyone had Gordon 8th, given he is in the top 100 on at least two lists. It's really not that hard to find that data on line.
    • gagu likes this
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clutterheart
Feb 18 2018 08:06 PM
Gordon's bat is a bit worriesome. And if his lack of skill at SS moves him to 2B I can't seem him being an everyday player.

But his choice to wear a Tigers uni while pursuing a music hobby should play no part in any evaluation of his ability.
    • gunnarthor, Danchat and Taildragger8791 like this
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Bob Sacamento
Feb 18 2018 11:23 PM

 

Every opinion by definition, including those of the ones who are high on Gordon, is subjective.

And I am not the only one.Check out Berardino's rating at the BA this offseason

Which part? The part where BA graded him as a 50 with only medium risk?The part where he is graded out at a 50 hit tool, 45 power, 50 speed, 50 fielding, an 55 arm?  

 

If you listened to the BA Twins podcast breakdown you'll hear where they say he very well could be #2 prospect depending on how you want to look at it (ceiling vs risk).In fact they said anyone #2-8 could be easily interchanged.BA states Gordon's 50 grade with medium risk is equivalant to Wander Javier being a 60 grade with extreme risk. Just a little FYI

    • birdwatcher, gunnarthor, clutterheart and 4 others like this

 

At this point Gordon's floor is Ehire Adrianza/Pedro Florimon without the glove and in a platoon situation.Unfortunately I am not convinced that his ceiling is higher than a (let's say) Steve Lombardozzi.

Ouch! That may be a bit harsh! I go back and forth on Gordon's potential, and whether or not he is overrated,. But I still have hope that he's going to be a solid, maybe above average, starter for the major league team in the next year or two. This is going to be another key year for him to show what he's got. Just gotta be patient and remember that he's still a bit young.

    • birdwatcher likes this

Our rankings:

 

Seth (4), Nick (6), Cody (2), Tom (3)

 

I don't think everyone had Gordon 8th, given he is in the top 100 on at least two lists. It's really not that hard to find that data on line.

 

Including Baseball America... While Berardino ranked him eighth, I think that their Top 100 had him at 3 or so.

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ashburyjohn
Feb 19 2018 08:57 AM

Add to that the (let's call it mildly) bad decision making process that had him wear a Detroit Tigers outfit in one of this music videos

Tigers? I haven't seen all his videos, but the one that was brought to our attention in another thread had him in a Mariner's jersey (I didn't recognize the meaning of any of his other attire). His brother Dee just signed a big contract with the M's. It's hard to find something sinister about idolizing one's big brother. This seems like a tangent worth dropping, in a thread about a player's ranking.

    • gunnarthor and SF Twins Fan like this

Tigers? I haven't seen all his videos, but the one that was brought to our attention in another thread had him in a Mariner's jersey (I didn't recognize the meaning of any of his other attire). His brother Dee just signed a big contract with the M's. It's hard to find something sinister about idolizing one's big brother. This seems like a tangent worth dropping, in a thread about a player's ranking.


That was his brother's jersey. I have less problem with that because it was his brother's, but if you are a professional player for a team is a bit tacky (to say the least) to wear another team's in the same sport jersey.
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ashburyjohn
Feb 19 2018 09:04 AM

Gordon has yet to repeat a level so that could ticket him to play all of 2018 at Rochester. However, he only turned 22 in October and his hitting decreased significantly at the end of the year. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Twins send him back to the Southern League to get his bat going at the start of 2018.

He's one of those uncommon players who has played full-time at each level followed by a promotion each time. And weak second-half or not, his season stats in 2017 were his best yet. The same logic they used in prior years would suggest AAA. What good will another hot start at AA do him, anyway? Observers, both professional and just us fans, would still say, wait, we don't know if he will fade. I would just bump him to Rochester and see how he does. If the questions are more about his glove, he won't learn more in AA than AAA on that aspect of his game. And he's so young, a bad 2018 at AAA still wouldn't mean very much for his long-term chances.

    • Original Whizzinator likes this
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TheLeviathan
Feb 19 2018 09:09 AM

It's hard not to look at his profile and see things to like and things to not like.But he's advancing well and young for his level, so I think this is about right.

 

He's not particularly valuable right now though, so I hope they don't deal him right now unless he is over-valued by their trade partner.

    • birdwatcher, Twins33, Danchat and 3 others like this
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ashburyjohn
Feb 19 2018 09:10 AM

That was his brother's jersey.I have less problem with that because it was his brother's, but if you are a professional player for a team is a bit tacky (to say the least) to wear another team's in the same sport jersey.

 

Here is a link to the Detroit video.It is not a jersey it is a back hoodie that he is wearing at the start of this video

Moderator's note: Enough.

    • Carole Keller, Seth Stohs, gunnarthor and 4 others like this

 

 

Which part? The part where BA graded him as a 50 with only medium risk?The part where he is graded out at a 50 hit tool, 45 power, 50 speed, 50 fielding, an 55 arm?  

 

If you listened to the BA Twins podcast breakdown you'll hear where they say he very well could be #2 prospect depending on how you want to look at it (ceiling vs risk).In fact they said anyone #2-8 could be easily interchanged.BA states Gordon's 50 grade with medium risk is equivalant to Wander Javier being a 60 grade with extreme risk. Just a little FYI

 

I specifically indicated Berardino's opinion in the 8th ranking, not the others'. 

 

If anyone wants to see my baseball-based argument regarding my opinion on Gordon (whom I ranked 16th in my list) they are here with his ranking. From there:

 

Gordon's glove is about average at SS but the footwork and lateral movement is not there to believe that he can be a first tier major league shortstop.His bat still projects as a major league average, however he was again neutralized against LHPs (.174/.273/.240 in 121 AB in AA last season.) He had good speed, but not great base stealing instincts that need a lot of work.This season was his greatest work load with 578 PA and Gordon showed that his his 6-0/160 lb frame might just not be durable enough for a full season.He hit a robust .315/.376/.504 in the first half, and he followed by a lackluster .221/.304/.305  the second half.His last two seasons overall are promising, but the ones who were hoping for a star with the 5th overall pick would be disappointed at Gordon, because he does not project as one. In addition, there seem to be make up issues, because instead of focusing on working on his baseball weaknesses this off-season, Gordon chose to produce music videos

 

I'd love to hear baseball-based counter arguments about the value of Gordon or whether the above is accurate or not based on data. Saying BA said so, or KL said so, are not baseball-based...

 

 

Nice right up, Cody.  I've been seeing so much negative spin on this kid it has started to effect me.  Like others, I am one who doesn't get as excited about Nick because he lacks any one elite skill, but the complete package is there.

 

One of his and Kohl Stewart's and Tyler Jay's problems will always be that they aren't the Ace the Twins needed to somehow find in the draft to complement the young core.  However, if Jermaine Palacios can net Odorizzi, there may yet be hope for Gordon...

    • Carole Keller, Siehbiscuit, beckmt and 1 other like this
I love his worth ethic and the fact that he's shown steady improvement, had that great ALF, and has shown real flashes. All of that, plus his age and steady advancement, I'm willing to chalk up his bad 2nd half last year to wearing down, pitchers making adjustments, etc. I think he profiles as a nice #2 hitter who just does everything well, without a single category where he just dominates. Of course, there still has to be improvement against LHP.
    • Carole Keller, gunnarthor, SF Twins Fan and 1 other like this

 

However, if Jermaine Palacios can net Odorizzi, there may yet be hope for Gordon...

 

Well played :)

 

    • SF Twins Fan likes this

We have an obvious offensive comp for Gordon, that being Polanco who played with the same teams at the same age for his 19, 20, and 21 years...and just two years in front of Gordon.

 

Year 19 (Cedar Rapids)

Polanco 308/362/452

Gordon277/336/360

 

Year 20 (Fort Myers)

Polanco 291/364/415

Gordon291/335/386

 

Year 21 (Chattanooga)

Polanco 289/346/393

Gordon270/341/408

 

Against right-handed pitching, Gordon looks better.It comes down to defense, and finding a bit of an answer against left-handed pitching.If he can play a solid major-league SS...(pretty huge divergence of opinion among the experts here)...and he can OPS+ 100(ish) which seems possible, that is a very valuable player.With regard to where he ranks...it's hard for some...me included...to wrap my head around a high school kid taken number 5 overall that ends up being a high floor, relatively low ceiling prospect.It's usually the other way around when a high-school kid is taken that high.  But it could work out.This year is huge, obviously.

    • gagu likes this

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