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  • Nick Gordon is Carving Out a Role in the Big Leagues


    Matthew Taylor

    It took him seven years to get there, but Nick Gordon has found himself on the Twins’ Major League roster. Not only that, the former first round pick is showing that he has what it takes to stick in the Big Leagues.

     

    Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    The career path for Nick Gordon hasn’t been an easy one. After being drafted fifth overall by the Twins in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft, Gordon was quickly labeled a bust by many, as the second baseman wasn’t progressing through the minor leagues as quickly as many hoped he would. In the Minors, Gordon consistently showed good contact skills, but failed to develop the power skills that would take his game to the next level.

    In 2019, Gordon put up his best season in the Minor Leagues, posting a .298 average in 70 games with the AAA Rochester Red Wings and showing solid plate discipline that would transition to the Major League game. Then 2020 happened. With eyes on a Major League roster spot, Gordon’s plans were put on hold after he was diagnosed with COVID-19 right before the start of Summer Camp. The disease hit Gordon extremely hard, forcing him to miss the entirety of the 2020 season and putting his future Major League Baseball hopes in serious jeopardy.

    After narrowly avoiding roster cuts and sticking on the 40-man roster with the Minnesota Twins, Nick Gordon came into the 2021 season with hopes of finally playing in the Major Leagues like his father and half brother had done before him.

    After seven years of perseverance, Gordon finally achieved his lifelong dream and made it to the Major Leagues. And boy, is he making a first impression.

    Through his first 24 plate appearances in the Big Leagues, Nick Gordon has collected 10 hits, posting a .435/.458/.565 slash line, with three stolen bases and a home run that he hit in front of his father, long time Major League pitcher, Flash Gordon.

     

    Showing nice bat control and even a little bit of pop, Gordon has been showing early on in his big league career that his bat can play at the Major League level. The problem that Gordon faced, though, was his defensive limitations. Throughout his Minor League career, Gordon has shown himself to potentially be a bit stretched at the shortstop position, limiting his defensive abilities to just be second base. Backup second basemen without much additional positional flexibility don’t have much utility in the Majors, and unless Gordon could show defensive abilities elsewhere, his future role was still somewhat of a question.

    Gordon’s future outlook changed on Thursday night, though, when he was thrust into center field after an Alex Kirilloff injury forced Gilberto Celestino to right field and opened up center for the former first round pick. Although it was just a one-game sample size, Gordon sure looked like a natural out there, showing the smooth movement, quick feet, and athleticism that it takes to stick in center field.

     

    Center fielders in baseball, especially ones who can hit, are always going to be a coveted asset in Major League Baseball. While Gordon might not have what it takes to stick as a full-time center fielder, if he can get some opportunities in 2021 to show that he can fill in there, he will most definitely carve out a long-term role in the Majors as a multi-positional utilityman with plus-speed and plus-contact ability. This role especially being useful on a Minnesota Twins team that has consistently needed backup centerfield services over the years.

    The road to the Majors for Nick Gordon has been more challenging than anyone could have anticipated. Gordon is finally getting his opportunity, though, and by the looks of it, he’s not going to give it up.

    What have been your first impressions of Nick Gordon in 2021? Do you think he has carved out a role in the Big Leagues? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!

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    I like the kid. He has a certain relaxed athleticism that I think will allow his abilities to play at the MBL level. I think that homerun to straight away CF off the low fastball shocked everybody. He has been really good in the lineup and sure didn't seem lost in CF either. He just looks so freakin' skinny.

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    Very small sample size, but yes he has been doing well so far this year.  Don't expect the HOF numbers to be the norm, though.

    At best, Gordon can be a nice OBP guy to bat leadoff.  Most likely, he slides into the bottom of the order where he would probably be better than a lot of other options.  His defense in the infield is really the key.

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    49 minutes ago, stringer bell said:

    Yep, it’s about his ability to play shortstop or else pushing past not one but two players at second base. 
    I like that Nick has some speed, which the team lacks, outside of Buxton. 

    I don't think he needs to be a starter or push anyone.  If Gordon can play even little short, second, and outfield, he could pair nicely with Astudillo.  Between the 2 of them they'd have the whole diamond covered position wise.  Not gold glovers but they could be 2 of the better utility players.  It could free up 2 roster spots for who knows what....maybe 15 pitchers instead of 13!

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    I am curious about the decision to put Gordon in CF over Gilberto Celestino.  Not that I am unhappy about it and hope that Gordon can learn how to play the OF like Jarrod Dyson. But with Gordon having no OF experience it seems the safe choice would have Larnach with a strong arm in RF, Gordon in LF and keeping Celestino in CF. 

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    2 hours ago, LA VIkes Fan said:

    Hope Gordon is put in CF every day until Buxton comes back. Would really help us if he could be a multi-positional player. Gives us some speed that we desperately need and it looks like he can hit some. 

    I hope they just recall Buxton because we are running out of bodies.  They should have given Gordon some reps in CF while he was in the minors.  They were asleep at the switch on that one.  I would guess he is going to spend a fair amount of time at AAA this year if the injury parade lets up.  Hopefully they put him in the OF and get a good idea how he adapts.  He would be a much better asset if he can also play the OF.  Gordon and Refsneider could be a great great bench tandem for the next few years.

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    With the Twins most like sellers at the tradeline this year, I see an opportunity for Gordon opening up.  Polanco, simmons, or Arraez could be dealt, opening the door for Gordon.  

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    If he continues to hit like he is they will find a place for him to play no worries there.  My main issue with Nick is it seemed like he could never stay healthy for a full season.  He always seemed to either start late or get injured late in the season.  The lack of power was always a concern as well but I guess he and Arraez can battle it out as they both are good contact hitters but Arraez has the better eye at the plate and Nick the better speed of the two.  

    Right now I am just happy he is a valuable player and not a complete bust.  Hopefully he can keep this up but I see a lot breaking ball pitches in his future so we will see if he can handle that or not.  Odds are pitchers won't be afraid to pitch to him since he can't hurt them with a home run so walks might be hard to come by but I guess we will have to wait and see how things work out for him at the plate.

    If he can play a good center field that would really help this team as it seems center fielders are always getting hurt so having a guy that can play center or second or third or short in a pinch sure would be a nice luxury to have.  Hopefully after all the bad luck he has had maybe he can some good luck for a change.

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    I’m really happy for him and I like him a lot. His speed could add a new dimension to the team. At least he looks to be a 2nd legitimate stolen base option next to Buxton. I would like to see him get a lot of time at 2nd base and Polanco at SS. Despite the errors, I thought Polanco had nice range at SS when healthy. Arraez can still play the Marcin role but probably better.

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    If Gordon can play outfield, the Twins need a left Fielder.  Larnach can play right and streaky Kepler goes on the block. Kiriloff plays first and he can rotate to the outfield for some days off.  Larnach doesn’t have enough range to play right—this is a lefty league now so stronger fielder is needed in right.  These young guys need to stay up, keep Arraez and thinK multi position players. This team is always hurt

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    Hmmmm, yeah, maybe his future is as a backup LF/CF/RF/2B with a higher batting average, with low power. He's definitely playing better than expected in a small sample size, and I'll keep rooting for him.

    I do wonder what the plan for Arraez will be. I am certainly not giving up on him, but perhaps they just need to stick him at 2B. Gordon seems like a much better option in the OF than Arraez.

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    17 hours ago, Dman said:

    If he continues to hit like he is they will find a place for him to play

    He is hitting .450 when he puts the ball in play.  I don't expect that is sustainable.

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    16 minutes ago, ashbury said:

    He is hitting .450 when he puts the ball in play.  I don't expect that is sustainable.

    Yeah and last night I believe it caught up to him some.  Still if he is making contact and keeping his K rate below or around 20% he is going to be just fine even if the BABIP drops.  He needs to turn some of those singles into doubles to keep his OPS up and I assume he will manage the occasional Home run as well.  If he could find a way to walk more that could help offset the K rate as well but like Kirilloff and Arraez guys that make good contact generally just don't walk that much because they put the ball in play.  They don't miss the ball as much so don't get in as many situations to work the count.

    We will see if it holds up and if he can stay healthy something he hasn't been able to do, but I could see him batting 270 or 280 with around 400 slugging kind of like he did in 2019 at AAA.  His BABIP was high at 360 that year as well but he makes quality contact so I think he can maintain a better than average BABIP I guess we will find out once they start pitching him a bit more carefully here.  He will likely drop off and have to adjust but this is a good year for him to learn as well.

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    Good article. I’m rooting for Gordon. He has nice energy for 2021. I don’t know why Riddle and Blankenhorn were given priority. I am usually a skeptical of infielders in the outfield but that was a nice grab of a hard hit ball, albeit with an expected 77% catch chance.

    If what you say is true, and Gordon is limited to second base, that means the Twins have basically three second baseman to consider for 2022: Arraez, Polanco, and Gordon.

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