The list itself is available to anyone. If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is:
- Royce Lewis
- Wander Javier
- Alex Kirilloff
- Stephen Gonsalves
- Brusdar Graterol
- Fernando Romero
- Brent Rooker
- Nick Gordon
- Blayne Enlow
- Tyler Jay
Still, it’s a bit jarring to see Gordon so low, especially after he had his best offensive season.
Gordon was also just 21-years-old throughout the entire season, three years younger than the average player in the Southern League. To put that into some perspective, when Brian Dozier was that age, he was still only a junior in college. Then again, Jorge Polanco made his major league debut at 20. Apples to oranges, I guess, but the point is Gordon is still quite young. Let's check out some of the numbers ...
-Gordon got off to an amazing start, hitting .315/.376/.504 (.880 OPS) in the first half.
-He hit a career-high nine home runs in 122 games played. Coming into 2017, Gordon had just five homers in 293 career games.
-He also posted a career best 9.2 BB%. Prior to 2017, Gordon had a career walk rate of 5.7 percent.
-He hit the most line drives in the Southern League, registering a 28.0 LD%.
-He stayed healthy, racking up 578 plate appearances. That was tied for the third most among all Double-A hitters.
-He was ranked 19th on Baseball America’s Midseason Top 100 and 33rd on Baseball Prospectus’ Midesason Top 50.
-Gordon also represented the Twins at the Futures Game, serving as the leadoff hitter and shortstop for the U.S. team.
-Gordon had a terrible second half at the plate, hitting .221/.304/.305 (.609 OPS).
-He was helpless against lefties, posting a .174/.273/.240 line (.513 OPS)
-He had the worst strikeout rate of his career, 23.2 percent. Coming into the year, he had a 17.1 K%.
-He was still only successful in 65 percent of his stolen base attempts (13-for-20), which is also roughly his career rate.
-He committed 22 errors in the field, 19 at shortstop and three at second base (to be fair, Polanco made 30 errors in his age 21 season). Unfortunately, advanced defensive stats aren’t really a thing in the minor leagues yet.
Gordon probably isn’t as good as his crazy first half, but he’s definitely not as bad as his terrible second half. There are questions about his ability to stick at shortstop, but at this time a year ago I was basically having a panic attack thinking about Polanco being the Twins everyday guy there. Coaching can go a long way toward helping an infielder refine his defense.
I have Gordon as my No. 3 prospect in the system, one spot ahead of Wander Javier, due in large part to the advances he made as a hitter. His power doesn’t stand out, but he took a huge step forward. He makes a lot of hard contact and is learning to draw more walks. With all that in mind, I didn’t see any reason to drop him in my rankings (though he slid down a spot from 2017 thanks to the arrival of Royce Lewis).
It’s a lot easier to pin dreams on guys who haven’t even made it to full-season ball than it is on someone who’s played an entire season in Double-A. The closer a prospect gets to the majors, the more likely his flaws are going to be exposed.
Gordon has some red flags, and I can see why someone would drop him down to the eighth spot. I don’t look at Berardino’s list and interpret it as a slam on Gordon, I see it as him being really high on the other six guys who follow Lewis. And there are plenty of good reasons to get excited about those players.
What do you think? Is Nick Gordon’s glass half full, or half empty?
The Twins Prospect Handbook has more prospect lists than you can shake a stick at, including every one of Seth Stohs’ rankings going back to 2006. Here is a link to the paperback, which is $15.99, and here is a link to the PDF, which is $10.99.
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