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Front Page: The Uncertain Future Of Nick Gordon

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#1 Matt Braun

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 09:05 PM

On June 5, 2014, the Twins appeared to have made a move that would greatly impact their future middle infield for years to come. On that day, they drafted Nick Gordon out of Olympia High School in Orlando, Fla. Gordon was a fantastic high school player who hit .505 and pitched to a 0.78 ERA over 35 2/3 innings in his last year of high school baseball. Also armed with great baseball genes through his father Tom Gordon who was a three-time All-Star over the 21 years he pitched in MLB. Also, his brother Dee Gordon is a two time All-Star himself and current player for the Seattle Mariners. It seemed like Nick Gordon was destined to be an important piece on the Twins for years.Early on as a prospect, Gordon’s skills were disputed by a number of different evaluators as some thought his glove wouldn’t be able to play at SS and he would never hit for enough power to play at a high level. Some saw his jack-of-all-trades type of skill set as being able to could develop as he continued on through the minors.

In MLB.com’s write-up for Gordon in 2014, they detailed him as having “...the actions and arm to stick at shortstop…” with...plus speed [that] plays well on the bases.” They go on to describe him as utilizing “...a solid left-handed swing and uses the whole field to hit.” His talent and ability was enough to land him at 37 on their top 100 prospect list that year.

For the first few years, Gordon held his own as he put up a modest 101 wRC+ in rookie ball in 2014 and a 104 mark in 2015 at Low-A. While certainly far from setting the world on fire, simply holding your own in the beginning of professional baseball is noteworthy in itself. Especially considering that Gordon had not yet hit 20-years-old after his 2015 season in Low-A.

Both 2016 and '17 helped Gordon’s prospect status a bit more as he bumped his wRC+ totals on the year up to 112 in 2016 at High A and 117 at AA, respectively. What was probably the most important development for Gordon was that he set a new career high for ISO (isolated power) in his 2017 season at AA as he finally broke through the .100 level and ended with a .139 mark on the season. While ISO is far from being an end-all, be-all statistic, there is a certain threshold that most hitters need to reach to be considered a quality batter in the day and age of power. Just four qualified hitters in 2019 in MLB held an ISO below .100 and the names near the bottom of the list don’t inspire much confidence at all, so Gordon adding some power seemed to be a big step forward for him.

Things took a turn for the worse in 2018 for Gordon’s baseball career. After destroying AA to start the year, Gordon was promoted to AAA where he hit for a paltry 52 wRC+ over 410 plate appearances. Around this time is the doubters spoke even louder and prospect evaluators quickly knocked Gordon down into a lower pool of players at the 40 FV level. Gordon was able to bounce back in 2019 at AAA as he hit for a 102 wRC+ with the highest ISO of his career but in a league where offense reigned supreme, these numbers were hardly eye-popping and the damage was already done to his prospect status.

Luis Arráez leapfrogged Gordon, and at the age of 22, he hit better at the major league level than Gordon did at AAA. Now with Arráez most likely penciled in at 2B for the future, Jorge Polanco locked in at SS for a number of years, and Miguel Sanó at 3B at least for the near future, the potential for any starting position for Gordon seems unlikely. Throw in that Royce Lewis will presumably make his debut soon and now Gordon is sitting on the outside looking in on a Twins team that has probably passed him by.

On Oct. 24, the day this article will go up, Gordon will celebrate his 24th birthday, but it could very well be his last one in the Twins’ system. Already armed with a full infield and with some glaring needs in the starting rotation, Gordon looks to be a potential trade chip over the offseason instead of the future infielder that we were promised years ago.

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#2 M&MFTW

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 09:16 PM

I digress. I feel like Gordon could play the Schoop role next year(Defensive sub/there to get the starters rest), if no infield depth moves are made. Infield defense is a desperate need of the Twins and Gordon fills that niche, the Twins had one of the worst infields by UZR.

 

Just an example, Sano could move to 1st and Gordon could hold 3B at least until Royce Lewis is ready. Even then Gordon could still have a role as a utility guy to complement Lewis if the Twins decide to utilize Lewis as a plug-n-play guy like Ketel Marte.

 

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#3 Matt Braun

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 09:38 PM

 

I digress. I feel like Gordon could play the Schoop role next year(Defensive sub/there to get the starters rest), if no infield depth moves are made. Infield defense is a desperate need of the Twins and Gordon fills that niche, the Twins had one of the worst infields by UZR.

 

Just an example, Sano could move to 1st and Gordon could hold 3B at least until Royce Lewis is ready. Even then Gordon could still have a role as a utility guy to complement Lewis if the Twins decide to utilize Lewis as a plug-n-play guy like Ketel Marte.

Nick Gordon has played nine innings at 3rd base in his professional career.

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#4 M&MFTW

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 09:53 PM

 

Nick Gordon has played nine innings at 3rd base in his professional career.

You got me there, maybe not 3B immediately. Give him some innings there in ST and see how well he takes it and move from there.

 

I do think he cracks the 26 man as the 26th man with Schoop likely gone. His defense is his positive and the Twins have a lack of defensively capable infielders as mentioned before.

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#5 Kelly Vance

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 10:00 PM

Naw, they have Ehire for that. I think he gets moved this off season with a couple of other prospectsfor pitching 

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#6 M&MFTW

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 10:08 PM

 

Naw, they have Ehire for that. I think he gets moved this off season with a couple of other prospectsfor pitching 

Ehire is a lot better than Polanco defensively, but still not great.

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#7 DocBauer

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 12:05 AM

Coming of his first "full" season at AAA, (yes, injuries shortened his year), with quality numbers, he remains an "intriguing" prospect for the Twins and other organizations. He is no longer a headline prospect, but I dare say he is much better than some throw in option. He appears to be a late, not old, developer who brings a lot, potentially, to the table. Probably not a star, but a potential starter of good quality, he could provide solid defense at two positions, with a decent bat, some OB and contact, combined with speed and some pop.

I sure wouldn't mind having him. He reminds me a bit of Adrianza and Escobar. Remember, Adrianza produced fairly well in milb but was a glove first player, and Escobar was similar. Late bloomers have a place, either as quality role players or potential starters.

If not traded, I feel Gordon will play for the Twins in 2020 at some point. The skill set is there. At some point, he may replace Adrianza, or could be the next Marwin. Hard to say.

2020 could be his make or break season.
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#8 Steve J

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 02:37 AM

What are the chances the Twins think the current makeup of Polanco at short and Sano at third is simply too ugly?I doubt they are going to get any of the premium starters on the FA market, so it stands to reason is the best way to make our pitching better is to focus on defense..

I wonder if its time to move Sano to first/DH and if we are going to let Polanco stay at short, we could have Gordon split time at second while having him backup Polanco.  Luis Arráez has the better part of a season's worth of experience at third base and afaict, looked decent there for the Twins this past year.  

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#9 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 06:17 AM

Honestly, if he brings back good pitching, I'd say that bright future for MN is realized. He's blocked as of now, but with options left, it doesnt' hurt to keep him in the system and give him some MLB at bats if someone gets hurt... 

 

But if a MI needy team is willing to cough up a good starter to get him and another prospect or two, I make that move 11 times out of 10. 

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#10 In My La-Z-boy

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 07:51 AM

If we "sell" on him this winter, we will be selling low. That is never a good idea. The return won't be worth it. 

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#11 BBAM

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 08:01 AM

I always thought with the old coaches that they held players back just to keep them at the lower salary longer.I think they should bring him up and let him succeed or fail and then move on.


#12 ashbury

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 08:02 AM

Ehire is a lot better than Polanco defensively, but still not great.

Then I think you're going to be disappointed in Gordon's SS defense, too. My small-sample of observation is that he has a knack for coming up just short of making the difficult plays you expect a major league SS to complete.

 

We have no shortage of MI, but they all skew toward 2B.

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#13 mikelink45

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 09:15 AM

Gordon is a miss, a player who I doubt will ever match his initial potential.One of many, but certainly I would move him.With Lewis and then Wander coming up and a young lineup in MLB it is better to find a place for him to develop at MLB.


#14 Thrylos

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 09:46 AM

The best value the Twins can get from Gordon for next season is as a trading chip in a package towards a starting pitcher this offseason.  

 

We are talking about a guy who has fallen apart the second half of every single season as a pro.Counting on Gordon as a full time piece makes no sense if you want to compete.The Twins need pitching more than they need Gordon.

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#15 JLease

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 10:22 AM

I still like Nick Gordon. It was a tough break for him the injuries this year, because he was playing well and now Arraez has jumped past him on the charts. he's still a guy who has real value and while I'm not opposed to trading him, I don't think this is the offseason to do it, because I expect us to get low-balled on him from everyone.

 

If you love Arraez, you shouldn't hate on Gordon. At age 21 in AA, who hit better? It was actually Gordon. Who hit better at age 22 in AA? Again...it was Gordon. Gordon has more pop in his bat, Arraez has the advantage of never having had a down year adjusting to a level and didn't get injured at the wrong time. Neither are defensive stalwarts. Both are going to hit for average. Arraez is a bit younger.

 

I'd much rather have Gordon on the roster as the possible replacement for Adrianza or as the first call up from AAA for a middle infielder in case of injury then getting an underwhelming return as a throw-in. His player profile has real value, but I think his perceived value around the league is disastrously low and I'm not ok with the concept of "eh, Arraez has passed him so let's move on for whatever bag of balls someone wants to give us".

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#16 Monkeypaws

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 10:23 AM

 

 

We are talking about a guy who has fallen apart the second half of every single season as a pro.Counting on Gordon as a full time piece makes no sense if you want to compete.The Twins need pitching more than they need Gordon.

 

Not sure a leg bruise from a hit by pitch counts as falling apart. He ended July on a tear, and then his season was pretty much done. He hit .323 over his last 15 games. 

 

Marwin and Ehire are short term players, both into their 30s. Having some young, quality depth in the upper minors is not a bad thing.

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#17 y2jjj54

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 11:06 AM

I am also on board with keeping Gordon.We can let Schoop go and he can fill the role Arraez was used for this year and like others have said replace adrianza in the future.I loved that the 2019 twins actually had depth.In years past we had no depth and one injury would put a AAA journey man in our lineup.This year we were able to manage more injuries because we actually had MLB quality players on our bench and even a few that could step in from AAA. 

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#18 RochesterDave

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 11:18 AM

I have had the “luxury “ of watching Nick Gordon over the last two seasons in Rochester. I am afraid that he was a wasted #4 pick! He is a mediocre shortstop at best - and rarely ever gets his uni dirty by diving for a hard grounder within reach. His arm is nothing special and is more suited for 2B. I am surprised he grew up in a baseball family as he does NOT have baseball smarts or intuitiveness. Having said that , he was improved in 2019 with the bat, but I view him as a Mlb utility player, at best. He’s no Schoop, Arraez or even Adrianza. If the Twins can get a Mid Teens pitching prospect for him, they would be doing well. I see him packaged this Winter as I doubt he hits close to .300 again.
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#19 Tomj14

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 11:45 AM

I think this FO has proved it won't sell minor leagues low. They don't make trades if they think they are selling low, I think that has been proven.

I don't get the we should keep him just because, I am pretty sure we be what is said about the top 20 Twins prospects and my question is how do you get better pitchers with out giving something up?


#20 Rosterman

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 11:57 AM

I'm not sure what his worth in a trade would be, unless combined with other assets.

 

Right now, I see him battling Ehire for the reserve position. Or, at the least, the Twins can still keep him at Rochester as the backup if something happens to Polanco or Arraez in 2020 and hopefully see his numbers rise even more at AAA and be part of a mid-season package. As that extra infielder on the 40-man, to you see jettisoning him, or keeping Torreyes?

 

Either way, he is still a part of the Twins 40-man roster for at least one more season. He is still a prospect to watch. He jsut has to stay healthy.

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