In a flash, Twins tab prep shortstop Gordon at No. 5
Florida product's father was a Major League pitcher and his brother plays for Dodgers
MINNEAPOLIS -- The top of the First-Year Player Draft was unpredictable this year, but the Twins got the player they always wanted with the No. 5 overall pick on Thursday.
After the trio of highly regarded pitchers, Brady Aiken, Tyler Kolek and Carlos Rodon, came off the board with the first three picks, the Twins just had to see what the Cubs would do at No. 4. Chicago went with college catcher Kyle Schwarber, leaving the Twins to select highly athletic shortstop Nick Gordon from Olympia High School in Orlando, Fla.
Gordon, the son of former All-Star closer Tom Gordon and the brother of Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon, had been heavily linked to Minnesota leading up to the Draft, and the Twins got their man. The Twins have $3.85 million available for their first pick.
"We've been locked in on Nick," Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said. "We obviously liked some of the pitchers taken ahead of him but he's been our guy since the start. We like his ability to play shortstop. We like his swing. I think he's going to have power down the road. He's going to stay at shortstop in my mind and has great work ethic. He's a great kid and obviously has big league bloodlines with his brother and his dad. We expect big things from him."
|1||HOU||LHP Brady Aiken|
|2||MIA||RHP Tyler Kolek|
|3||CWS||LHP Carlos Rodon|
|4||CHC||C Kyle Schwarber|
|5||MIN||SS Nick Gordon|
|6||SEA||OF Alex Jackson|
|7||PHI||RHP Aaron Nola|
|8||COL||LHP Kyle Freeland|
|9||TOR||RHP Jeff Hoffman|
|10||NYM||OF Michael Conforto|
|11||TOR||C Max Pentecost|
|12||MIL||LHP Kodi Medeiros|
|13||SD||SS Trea Turner|
|14||SF||RHP Tyler Beede|
|15||LAA||LHP Sean Newcomb|
|16||ARI||RHP Touki Toussaint|
|17||KC||LHP Brandon Finnegan|
|18||WAS||RHP Erick Fedde|
|19||CIN||RHP Nick Howard|
|20||TB||1B Casey Gillaspie|
|21||CLE||OF Bradley Zimmer|
|22||LAD||RHP Grant Holmes|
|23||DET||OF Derek Hill|
|24||PIT||SS Cole Tucker|
|25||OAK||3B Matt Chapman|
|26||BOS||SS Michael Chavis|
|27||STL||RHP Luke Weaver|
|28||KC||LHP Foster Griffin|
|29||CIN||SS Alex Blandino|
|30||TEX||RHP Luis Ortiz|
|31||CLE||LHP Justus Sheffield|
|32||ATL||OF Braxton Davidson|
|33||BOS||RHP Michael Kopech|
|34||STL||RHP Jack Flaherty|
The Twins also had the 46th selection overall on Thursday night. The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pregame show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at noon CT.
Gordon, ranked as the No. 5 overall Draft prospect by MLB.com, was the consensus top infielder in the Draft.
"He's not a flashy defensive player, but he has really good arm strength and he can make the routine play," Johnson said. "He's athletic."
Gordon was able to take in the Draft with his father at MLB Network's Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J., and called it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"Just going in the first round is great," Gordon said. "There's no better feeling than that. It's so unpredictable what's going to happen, so to be picked by Minnesota is the greatest feeling in the world."
Tom Gordon, who pitched in the Majors for parts of 21 seasons and was a three-time All-Star, said that his son benefited from being around the Major League clubhouses growing up.
"He's seen it, he's been around it, he doesn't overdo things," Tom Gordon said. "He doesn't get to a point where anything makes him make a drastic decision. He stays within himself. Over the last year and a half, we saw him take shape and take strides in the things he doesn't forget."
Gordon's speed, arm and defense all rate as plus tools, and he also boasts above-average bat speed and strong wrists at the plate, giving him surprising power from his 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame. The 18-year-old added 15 pounds of muscle over the last year, and will need to continue to add strength as he advances through the Minor Leagues.
"In scouting we look for the projectable kid and he came a long way from this summer," Johnson said. "He gained weight and got bigger. We all liked him going into the fall but he's one of the kids in the Draft that really moved up because of his physical strength."
Gordon said he also believes he can bring some power down the road, and models his game after Yankees superstar Derek Jeter.
"I think I can be a line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter, but I think I can hit 20 to 25 bombs a year. I could be that leadoff guy like Carl Crawford or Derek Jeter," Gordon said. "I pattern my game after those guys."
Gordon, who hits from the left side but throws right-handed, is also regarded as a top prospect as a pitcher with a fastball in the low-90s and a good curveball. But much like MLB.com's No. 1 overall prospect, Byron Buxton, who was also a dominant high school pitcher, the Twins are inclined to keep Gordon as a position player.
"I think I bring more to the table as a shortstop," said Gordon, who didn't pitch at all last year.
Gordon, who is committed to play baseball at Florida State, hit .494 with a .576 on-base percentage in 27 games his senior year at Olympia High School en route to being named Gatorade Florida Baseball Player of the Year for a second straight season. He hit five homers, 10 doubles and two triples with 27 RBIs and 28 runs scored. He also stole 13 bases.
As a junior, Gordon hit.505 with two homers and 30 RBIs, while also going 5-1 with five saves, a 0.78 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings pitched.
He said he visited Minneapolis and Target Field last year while playing in a Perfect Game tournament, and is excited for the chance to play in the Twin Cities despite the cold weather.
"One thing I know is that it's cold in Minnesota, but I gotta make that adjustment," Gordon said with a laugh. "If I'm cold, everyone also will be cold. So I'm going to enjoy playing in a new climate. I've been up to Minnesota and seen the city and the new ballpark, and I fell in love with it. So I'm ready to be on a big league field and take it all in."