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Take Landis Name off the MVP Award

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Nick Gordon and the Tea Leaves

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 28 February 2018 · 2,369 views

minnesota twins nick gordon jorge polanco brian dozier
As February comes to a close, and the calendar turns over to March, spring training is well underway for the Minnesota Twins. After an 85 win season took them to a Wild Card tilt in the Bronx, Paul Molitor's club is looking to make waves in the year ahead. Looking to make waves on his own, Nick Gordon seems to have been given a handful of opportunity from the get go this exhibition season.

As of this writing, Minnesota will have played five games in Grapefruit League action, and Gordon has competed in three of them. He's started twice, manning the middle of the diamond with Jorge Polanco flanking him at shortstop. Playing second base in all of his action, Dee's brother and Tom's son has provided some interesting messages to read into.

At Double-A Chattanooga in 2017, Gordon played 104 games at short, while manning second base in just 14 contests. Drafted as a shortstop out of high school, the hope was that his glove would allow him to stick at the position. Now through 415 minor league games, he's started 374 of them at short. Although the expectation was that the bat needed to develop, the early belief is that the glove and arm could stick. With defensive metrics being tracked much more lightly on the farm, we're forced to look at much more archaic forms of measurement. Spanning all of his game action, Gordon owns a .960 fielding percentage to go with 69 errors. The past two seasons, he's committed 24 and 19 errors respectively.

Multiple prospect experts see Gordon needing to slide over to second at the next level. While he has the speed and range at short, the glove and arm have left him susceptible to miscues. If that ends up being the case, the likely outcome is an up-the-middle-pairing with Jorge Polanco. Unfortunately, both of those players would be somewhat miscast for an every day role at short, but Polanco did make strides a season ago. After being worth -8 DRS and posted a -10.9 UZR in 406 innings during 2016, Jorge played over 1,110 innings in 2017 and compiled a -1 DRS and -4.3 UZR.

Gordon's bat has been on a nice trajectory however. After compiling a .699 and .696 OPS in his first two seasons, Gordon has surpassed the .700 OPS mark in each of the past two years. His .749 OPS in 2017 was a career best, and still reached that height despite a final 30 games (8/1-9/4) that equated to just a .593 OPS. Over the course of his first 92 games last season (4/6-7/31), Gordon posted a .287/.362/.439 slash line with 24 doubles, seven triples, and seven homers. As a 21 year-old at Double-A, those numbers are glowing.

Currently in Fort Myers at the Twins spring training complex, John Bonnes spoke with Minnesota second basemen Brian Dozier. In his comments, he makes it relatively clear that he's looking forward to his impending free agency. At 31 years-old, he'll be somewhat difficult to hand a long-term, big-money deal. If Derek Falvey and Thad Levine decide to go a different direction, letting Dozier walk could open the door for Gordon to run with the role for good.

There's no reason to believe Gordon's early action in spring training suggests he's got a legitimate shot to break camp with the Twins. Right now, the top prospect isn't even on the 40 man roster. What I do think we are seeing is an early-and-often approach that suggests Minnesota knows he's close. Gordon will probably spend the bulk of 2018 at Triple-A, and could see time at the big league level later in the year. The more he plays alongside potential future teammates however, the easier it is for him to integrate when called upon.

Over the course of recent Twins seasons, there may be no bigger shoes to fill than Brian Dozier's. Nick Gordon isn't ever going to hit anywhere near 30+ home runs in a season, but he could be called upon to take the baton from the Twins All-Star. The more he plays in starting lineups during 2018 spring training should only fuel the fire to make that a reality on a nightly basis when the games count.

It seems to me that Minnesota believes Gordon is very close, and for the player, that should be motivating enough to make 2018 a season to keep an eye on.

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  • Cory Engelhardt likes this



O-Dog ceiling with no gold gloves but more stolen bases.Hopefully someone else in the lineup can add 20-30 homers to their game.The runs created with those homers will basically be the difference between Dozier and a Gordon who reaches his ceiling.

 

Gordon will have zero leadership being a millennial who's always eaten from the silver spoon. 

 

Hopefully, G-Cinco trash music will be banned from Target Field. 

    • 3balls2strikes likes this

It looks like Gordon and Polonco will be the Twins middle infield for at least 2019 and possibly 2020.Do not see Dozier resigning here (maybe he takes the QO).Hopefully Twins will use some of the money and buy a front line pitcher.  

Gordon has the upside of an above average major league player (no longer see him as an elite player), but that still is very good.

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Ted Schwerzler
Feb 28 2018 12:45 PM

 

Hopefully Twins will use some of the money and buy a front line pitcher. 

 Has to be an ability to have that scenario present itself. They aren't going to be in play for Kershaw, and that leaves Keuchel, who will probably have plenty of suitors.

Slightly disappointing to see Gordon playing second in spring training...especially at the same time Polanco is at short.Seems like an early indication that they feel Polanco's defensive ceiling at SS is better than Gordon's.Given Polanco's limitations, I'd take that as a nail in the coffin in terms of hopes that Gordon will be a SS.

 

Having said that, the small number of at-bats I've seen are very encouraging, and he may have the potential to be above average defensively at second (one would think given his overall athleticism?)

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Ted Schwerzler
Feb 28 2018 01:28 PM

 

Slightly disappointing to see Gordon playing second in spring training...especially at the same time Polanco is at short.Seems like an early indication that they feel Polanco's defensive ceiling at SS is better than Gordon's.Given Polanco's limitations, I'd take that as a nail in the coffin in terms of hopes that Gordon will be a SS.

 

While I don't think Gordon sticks at 2B, you're also reading too much into it IMO. Polanco is the MLB starting SS right now and will remain so for the immediate future. You aren't going to play him out of position for a non-roster invitee

    • luckylager, Sconnie, South Dakota Tom and 2 others like this
Adrianza is a better shortstop and he started at 3rd and LF. Polanco is going to be the SS until he proves he can’t. If he’s functional and the bat continues to produce he will stay at SS but Polanco is not a long term option at SS.
I think Gordon did start at SS against the Gopher. He kicked the first ball, and then blew a rundown play. The depth of the Twins MI, current and future, has been endlessly documented. My question has always been when are they going to have a MI who is not only Interesting to watch hit, but also to play his position. And I don't count diving for ground balls that many IF would field standing up, interesting. Last year the value of a defensive player, in a defensive position was emphasized by Buxtons play in CF. I hope sooner or later the team uses that lesson in parceling out playing time in the MI.

 

While I don't think Gordon sticks at 2B, you're also reading too much into it IMO. Polanco is the MLB starting SS right now and will remain so for the immediate future. You aren't going to play him out of position for a non-roster invitee

Fair enough.That makes sense when looked through the lens of how flipping them would be viewed by Polanco, the still-developing incumbent.So instead, I'll be slightly disappointed that Gordon was playing 2B while Gregorio Petit was playing SS.

 

Anyway, we'll get the more definitive view over the first 20 games or so for Rochester...because that roster will have at least one experienced SS on it.  Meanwhile his small number of AB's have been very encouraging IMO.

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Comrade Bork
Mar 03 2018 08:54 AM

Gordon will have zero leadership being a millennial who's always eaten from the silver spoon.Hopefully, G-Cinco trash music will be banned from Target Field.
Gotta love that casual ageism and racism. "That young brown kid better not bring his trash music to MN" Joe Mauers age and stupid walk up rap really helps him lead the clubhouse.
    • ToddlerHarmon likes this

I think it is still a little early to put a lot of stock in Polanco as being the starting SS going forward.If he can be a 0 DRS SS and his bat is anywhere close to what the 2nd half was last year, with maybe a bit more power, he will be a pretty dependable and quite contributing SS.I think this year we may see the real Polanco step up or fall.The great thing about SS in this organization is we do have some depth, and if Polanco falls Gordon could take those reigns, and we would have to look for a 2B.I would want to push as hard as we can to see if Gordon can be a SS though. SS is a tough position to have a very quality player at, if Gordon lives up to they hype I hope he is a SS.If Polanco overachieves and Gordon "has to play" 2B that is a luxury the Twins would have at either moving Polanco or keeping that IF in tact which would ultimately be ideal. 

This is the season of young guy watch. Sano, Buxton, Rosario, Polanco, Kepler. This is the offensive heart of the Twins years of floundering. This is the year we find out which of these 5 are serviceable, which are really good and who, if anyone is a superstar. My bet for super stardom are Buxton and Polanco. Only time will tell.