Twins select prep shortstop Nick Gordon No. 5 overall
MINNEAPOLIS — It appeared all along that high school shortstop Nick Gordon was the player the Minnesota Twins coveted with the No. 5 pick. With Gordon still on the board when the Twins made their selection, he was indeed their guy.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Gordon was viewed by some as the top position player in this year’s draft. It marks the second time in three years that Minnesota drafted a high school position player after taking outfielder Byron Buxton with the No. 2 overall pick in 2012. Last year, the Twins took a prep pitcher No. 4 overall when they selected right-hander Kohl Stewart.
With the first four picks Thursday falling in line for Minnesota, the Twins were able to snatch Gordon at No. 5.
"We’d been locked in on Nick," said Twins scouting director Deron Johnson. "We obviously liked a lot of pitchers picked ahead of us, but Nick, he was our guy from the start."
The Houston Astros took high school left-hander Brady Aiken with the No. 1 overall pick Thursday. Miami followed by selecting right-hander Tyler Kolek with the second selection. After N.C. State’s Carlos Rodon went No. 3 to the White Sox and the Cubs took Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber, Minnesota was pleased to see Gordon still on the board.
The left-handed hitting Gordon played his high school baseball at Olympia High School in Windermere, Fla. As a senior, Gordon batted .495 with five home runs, 27 RBI and 13 stolen bases. He’s committed to play baseball at Florida State next season, but he’s expected to forego his college career to turn pro now that the Twins have made him the No. 5 overall pick.
Gordon was on hand at the draft in New York, along with his parents. On a conference call with reporters shortly after he was drafted, Gordon expressed just how excited he was to go No. 5 overall to the Twins.
"Just being here and being able to go in the first round, there’s no better feeling than that," Gordon said. "The draft is so unpredictable so you never know what really could happen. Just to be picked by Minnesota, it’s the greatest feeling in the world."
Given his family’s background, Gordon didn’t seem to have much of a choice but to play baseball. His father, Tom, was a major league pitcher for 21 seasons with eight different teams from 1988-2009. As a right-handed reliever, Tom Gordon was a three-time All-Star with the Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies. He finished his career with 890 games under his belt and an ERA of 3.96.
Nick Gordon’s older brother, Dee, is also starting to make a name for himself in the big leagues. He’s currently the starting second baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers and leads the majors with 35 stolen bases and is batting .279 with 31 runs scored.
Now it’s Nick’s turn to carry on the Gordon family name as a professional baseball player.
"He’s got great work ethic. Great kid. Big-league bloodlines, obviously, with his brother and his dad," Johnson said. "We expect big things from him. . . . In the scouting world, we always say big-league bloodlines are going to help at some point. You really don’t know, but the kid is made up right."
Johnson and the Twins believe Gordon will be able to remain at shortstop, although he has the tools to play second base or third base. And while his speed isn’t quite up to the caliber of his brother’s, the younger Gordon can still run.
"There’s not too many people in baseball with his brother’s speed," Johnson said. "(Nick) can run. He doesn’t show you a great time on the clock just because he’s got a pretty big swing and he’s got power. He doesn’t get out of the box as well as his brother, but he’s a plus runner."
Gordon said he couldn’t remember the first time he was in a major league clubhouse — he was born in the middle of his dad’s 21-year career — but he noted the impact that his baseball lineage has had on his young career.
"Without my dad and my brother, I wouldn’t be where I am today," said Gordon, who said he models his game after his brother and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. "Everything that I know and everything that they’ve taught me, I use it in my game today. It’s made me a totally better player and a better person. I thank my dad and my brother every single day. I thank God for them."
Gordon has been to Minneapolis before to take part in the Perfect Game National Showcase at the now-demolished Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, and he said he had the opportunity to check out Target Field while in town.
Though he said he enjoyed the city, Gordon knows there’s one adjustment he’ll have to make if and when he eventually calls Minnesota his home.
"One thing I really knew is that it’s cold in Minnesota," Gordon said. "I’ve got to get ready for that, because I’ve got to make that adjustment. If I’m cold, then everybody else is cold. I’m going to enjoy playing in the cold and I’m going to enjoy being in a new climate and being away from home. . . . I’m ready to be on that big-league field and that big-league dirt and just take it all in."
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