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  • Nick Gordon Suddenly Living Up to Former Top-Prospect Status


    Cody Christie

    Few baseball prospects can live up to the hype surrounding their trek through the minor league system. It looked like Nick Gordon was running out of big-league opportunities, but he has been crucial to Minnesota’s 2022 success.

    Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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    The Twins drafted Nick Gordon with the fifth overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. There can be plenty of pressure put on a top-5 draft pick, but that was even more true for Gordon. His brother, Dee Strange-Gordon, and his father, Tom Gordon, were All-Stars during their respective careers. There’s no quest that Gordon faced added pressure as a prospect, which might have impacted his development throughout his career. 

    MLB’s draft is different from the other major sports leagues because no players immediately impact the big-league level. In Gordon’s draft, three players taken after him in the first round have accumulated more than 25 WAR, including Trea Turner, Aaron Nola, and Matt Chapman. It’s easy for fans to play the “what if” game with any of these players, but draft baseball talent isn’t an exact science. Gordon was highly touted as an amateur and deserved to be a top-10 pick. 

    After signing with the Twins, Gordon immediately became one of the organization’s top-ranked prospects. All three major national rankings (Baseball America, MLB, and Baseball Prospectus) placed Gordon among baseball’s top 100 prospects for four consecutive seasons (2015-18). During that stretch, his highest OPS was in 2017, when he combined for 46 extra-base hits at Double-A. Gordon proved he could consistently get on base, but his power hadn’t developed. Unfortunately, multiple health issues impacted his development moving forward. 

    Besides the pressures of being a top prospect, Gordon dealt with two health issues that had a chance to cost him his career. His entire 2020 season was erased when he tested positive for COVID-19 and didn’t clear protocols until late August. Gordon has also dealt with chronic gastritis that causes him to lose weight. He’s a naturally skinny player, but he was down to 153-pounds at one point. Luckily, he has worked through his health concerns and is currently playing at 180-pounds. 

    It’s hard to put in perspective what Gordon has meant to the Twins during the 2022 season. Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff being out for the year has forced players like Gordon to step up and fill a prominent role. Gordon is doing more than filling in as he is putting himself into the team’s future plans. He ranks in the 79th percentile or higher in Barrel %, Average Exit Velocity, Hard Hit %, xSLG, and xwOBA. Also, Gordon ranks 9th on the Twins according to both versions of WAR. Every team needs role players, and Gordon is more than filling his role.  

    There is no question that Gordon has been invaluable to the 2022 Twins, but the team might be lucky in other ways. Because he was a late-bloomer, Gordon is not arbitration eligible until 2025, and he can’t reach free agency until 2028. Currently, he is 26 years old, so Minnesota can control the prime of his career. 

    Gordon may never be an All-Star like the other members of his family, but he is proving the Twins were right to draft him so highly. Not every prospect pans out, but the Twins would be in a much different position if Gordon wasn’t making plays for a first-place team. 

    What has stood out to you most about Gordon this season? What do you remember about his minor league career? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

     

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    Gordon's pedigree made a large impact on why he was selected so high. I was very disappointed with his performance in the minors knowing he wouldn't stick as a starting SS. But I was very impressed with him willing to take on a totally alien postion and transitioning himself into a legit CF. I believed he'd improve his hitting but he has surpassed all my expectations and he probably has more space to be better. Gordon has transformed himself from a bust into a very valuable asset for the Twins. Go Gordon!

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    So thankful to have him. He's more or less hitting like Larnach was (with better contact) and the underlying stats back it up. If you add in the defensive flexibility and speed, he's one of the best utility men in the game. Not to mention he might even add a little more power as he gets even healthier. He could be the prime Marwin Gonzalez that we never got to see.

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    Gordon is top 11% of the league in expected slugging percentage, hard hit and exit velocity. Statcast actually says Gordon has been pretty unlucky this year as well. I keep expecting he's peaked, but watching him play, he's driving balls with authority. 

    If Gordon ever figures out how to take a couple pitches, he could be a very dangerous bat. Crazy.

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    The roller cost view of Gordon throughout his baseball career!

    He is a utility player, different from Arraez he isn’t an everyday player but in todays baseball with 3 man benches and a back up catcher a guy who can fill in well at multiple position especially up the middle has huge value.

    He is a streaky hitter which is foreseeable for a guy who doesn’t get consistent playing time. You have to like the power that he has shown lately.

      I do think your view will change of him from this article if you give him the starting LF spot the remainder of the season because the bat won’t continue at this pace.  
     

    Love him as a utility player and feel he should continue in his utility role the remainder of the yr and seen as that for ‘23.

     

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    Nick Gordon, forever labeled as utility player. Sitting at 1.3 bWAR in 259 plate appearances. Those aren't utility player numbers, folks. Gordon's pretty much a dead pull hitter, but he's been able to avoid having the shift utterly kill his numbers so far. Not sure how long that's sustainable, but right now, Gordon is producing at an every day player level greater than Max Kepler.

     

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    Writing police:  you can't be a "former" top prospect.  If you were once a top-prospect, that can never be taken away. 

    It's not like you graduate from that status.

    "Former University of Minnesota graduate becomes millionaire."

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    23 minutes ago, Old Twins Cap said:

    Writing police:  you can't be a "former" top prospect.  If you were once a top-prospect, that can never be taken away. 

    It's not like you graduate from that status.

    "Former University of Minnesota graduate becomes millionaire."

    So you're saying Kirby Puckett is currently a top prospect?

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    It's been really great to see Gordon go from being a DFA candidate to a legitimate major league player. If he can improve his outfield defense, he could have a lock on the utility role for the next 5 years with a chance at becoming an everyday player.

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    1 hour ago, USAFChief said:

    Also Cesar Tover. 

    :)

    My computer is not set-up for the acute accent symbol in Spanish, so I used the common Latin spelling.

    I had one once where I could change key board easily, including to Cyrillic, but that one gave up the ghost.

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    I'm still not certain how good of a hitter he might turn out to be, nor how much pop/power he might yet develop. I'm always surprised how the ball jumps off his bat. I think he's still developing as a hitter. So a few more walks and some continued power growth would be welcome and not totally unexpected at this point. His defense keeps improving, IMO.

    I think we often forget not only his battles with illness, and then covid, but he was having probably his best season in 2019 and was probably going to be called up before an injury, an ankle I believe. Instead, Arraez was brought up and good for both Arraez and the Twins! But it just goes to show his trajectory to MLB hasn't been anything close to a straight, upward line.

    I love watching him play as he seems to just genuinely love the game. And he's been, mostly, very good and exciting on the basepaths. Personally, I'd like the Twins to run him more.

    I think he's a very nice guy to have around, is still improving, and should have a nice career as a roll player. But he does have to keep improving because I think there's a couple of guys coming up over the next couple of years who might just be even better. But I am definitely a fan of his.

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    Nick Gordon has shown that he has the skills to improve at each level when he gets another opportunity. This year he received another shot and he has stepped forward. Now he will need to hone more specific skills and become more consistent to keep a position. One skill that boosts the odds in Gordon's favor is his athleticism and versatility. Speed and improved defense at a number of positions creates more opportunities for Gordon to stay in the lineup. If Nick can improve against left-handed pitching (reference to Brock's article about how Gordon has been used) and lay off the high fastball, he may find himself a regular with his name in the lineup on a regular basis. While we might like so many things about Trevor Larnach, Gordon has better speed and has shown stronger defensive skills. We all love the energy he brings and the more line drives  Gordon hits the more fans in his corner.

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    1 hour ago, DocBauer said:

    I think he's a very nice guy to have around, is still improving, and should have a nice career as a roll player. But he does have to keep improving because I think there's a couple of guys coming up over the next couple of years who might just be even better. But I am definitely a fan of his.

    Some where over the Rainbow....

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    Crazy to think that this was a valid TD feature article on May 29:

    … and I’m 0% picking on Ted. It was a valid concern and a fine article. Today, Gordon has instead anchored his place on the team and proves his value on repeat.

    The 2022 Twins are getting  a lot of contribution from this particular “bubble guy.”

    As I write this, Aaron Hicks is batting for the Yankees. .226/.347/.319 @ $6m

    I’ll take Nick 100 times out of 100.

    That’ll make me sleep a little better.


     

     

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    Gordon is going to be a very valuable piece to have over the next few years, as a very low cost asset who is playing better and better. It seems that his floor at this point is utility guy, in the vein of Ehire Adrianza or similar player we've had over the last few years. However, his ceiling is the most perplexing. I really don't know what it is, considering that he is starting to flash a lot more power than I thought he would ever have, as well as avg/obp. If he turns into a 15+ hr per season player, which is certainly possible at this point, he is going to be a hard bat to replace in the lineup. He was always well-regarded as a pretty decent contact hitter, and I think the major knock on him was his lack of power. That seems to be trending in the right direction, so I am really looking forward to him hopefully continuing to carve a spot for himself in a pretty good lineup. 

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    I love Nick Gordon! The thing that sticks out most to me is that at each promotion and level Gordon struggled to hit. Generally, he spent an entire year at a level before beginning to hit. That is exactly what has happened at the MLB level too. Once he got to 400 plate appearances he started to hit. His May, June, July splits all have an OPS over .750 which is very impressive for a "utility" player.

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    On 8/8/2022 at 2:54 PM, Old Twins Cap said:

    Writing police:  you can't be a "former" top prospect.  If you were once a top-prospect, that can never be taken away. 

    It's not like you graduate from that status.

    "Former University of Minnesota graduate becomes millionaire."

    Actually, that is precisely what you do. Prospect status is temporary, you either bust, or graduate to the majors (nobody currently ranks Miranda among the Twins' top prospects, because he is no longer a prospect; he is, in fact, a former top prospect). 

    The more accurate example is "Former U of M student becomes millionaire." 

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