05/18/05 10:00 AM ET
Gordon ready for a Major challenge
Third baseman expected to go in the top five in draft
By Kevin T. Czerwinski / MLB.com
The Nebraska junior has done just about everything he can on a baseball field. Now, all the All-America honoree has left to do -- aside from helping his team win a College World Series crown -- is wait to get drafted. And all indications are that Cornhuskers third baseman will go in the top five picks, if not the first, in next month's First-Year Player Draft.
Armed with that knowledge, Gordon isn't worried. Oh, he's excited all right. But worried? Not in the least.
"If I haven't proven myself throughout the season, then there's not much I can do now," Gordon said. "So my focus is on what I have to be doing. It's not difficult at all. The draft is going to happen. If I worry about the pressure then I'll just make myself nervous on the field. I've been successful so far. So, why change it?
"I've been enjoying all of it. I'm honored to be listed [by some] as a top prospect. I never thought that would happen. Since I got to Nebraska, it's just been a lot of work."
The last Nebraska player chosen with the top pick was Darin Erstad in 1995. In fact, he was the last Cornhusker taken in the first round. But Gordon has proven to be just as special as Erstad was, hitting .402 through 50 games with 14 homers and 43 RBIs. As a sophomore, he hit .365 with 18 homers and 75 RBIs with a .754 slugging percentage.
"He'll go early," one scout said of Gordon. "The first four or five picks. He's a very polished hitter so don't expect him to last long."
Gordon has been rated the top corner infielder by just about every publication that handicaps the draft. The scouts love him, too, finding precious little bad to say about the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder.
"He's a good third baseman who can hit for power and average," one Major League scout said. "He has very few flaws. I think he squats too much in his stance and occasionally chokes the bat with his top hand, but those are two flaws that are easily corrected. I think he's squatting because he's seeing a lot of junk-ball pitchers in college. They're pitching around him more so he has to be patient at the plate. In pro ball, they're going to challenge him and he's going to be free to do more of what comes naturally.
"I think he'll definitely move fast through the Minors. He's a true third baseman who can make the plays, especially on the slow rollers. That's the sign of a legitimate third baseman. A lot of times amateur third basemen have problems with the slow rollers, whether they are dunks or slowly hit balls. He makes those plays very easily."
The possibility exists that Gordon could be moved off third base, depending on which team drafts him. He played first base for Team USA last year and was more than adequate. He's willing to go wherever he's told, though.
"If it were up to me, I'd play third base," Gordon said. "But I consider myself a hitter first. It doesn't matter to me, though. I think I can play third base at the next level. I just want to be in the lineup and be able to play.
"I know it's going to take hard work to get there. I'm not going to have anything handed to me. It's going to take a lot of hard work. As a player, you always need to improve. You can always work harder and that's what I'm going to be doing."
Gordon grew up a fan of the Kansas City Royals. His idol was George Brett. Though he confesses to not remember ever seeing Brett play, saying, "It's vague, I was too little, you know, to remember watching him". Still, it only seems fitting that he liked Brett as a youngster because there are some who believe he could follow a similar career path under the right circumstances.
"I'm just trying to be my own player," he said. "I have my own game, my own style. I'm just trying to be myself."
And right now, being himself, he has nothing to hide.
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.