Scouting Director compares SS Nick Gordon to J.J. Hardy, Stephen Drew
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MINNEAPOLIS - The Twins have watched Nick Gordon for almost three years now. And even if things break favorably, it will be several more before he makes it to the big leagues.
What kind of player can he be, if things go according to plan?
"If he hits for power he could be a J.J. Hardy type or a Stephen Drew type. Steady," Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said. "He's not a flashy defensive player but he's got really good arm strength. He can make the routine play and he is athletic."
"I think he's going to have power. Some in the [Twins' draft] room don't believe that. We all think he's going to hit for a high average."
Gordon, for his part, set the bar for himself a little higher.
"I compare my game to my brother [Dee Gordon] a lot but I want to be the player Derek Jeter is one day," the younger Gordon said on a conference call Thursday.
"I think I can be a linedrive gap-to-gap hitter but I also think I can about 20-25 bombs a year. I could be that leadoff guy. I could be that next Carl Crawford leading off, that next Derek Jeter leading off. That's who I pattern my game after at the plate and I think I can do those things-I know I can do those things."
Gordon's father, Tom "Flash" Gordon was a Major League reliever and his brother, Dee, is the second baseman for the Dodgers. Johnson said the scouting world likes to say big-league bloodlines help but acknowledged that "you never know."
Can he be an elite fielder?
"Elite? I don't know," Johnson said. "With work and progress, yeah, there's a chance. But I'm not going to say he's going to be Omar Vizquel or anything. I think he's got the ability to stay at shortstop."
The Twins next will try to sign Gordon and assign him to one of their minor league affiliates. Which one, Johnson said, he's not yet sure. That likely will be the job of Director of Minor League Operations Brad Steil and other player development staffers.
Johnson said the Twins envision Gordon remaining at shortstop long-term, which helps a perrenial organizational thin spot. Johnson added that Gordon's arm and athleticism mean he'd likely be capable of playing other positions.
"He can play second, he can play third. He's got a really good arm, he's going to get stronger. He's probably only 175 pounds right now but he's got big shoulders like his dad."
Gordon throws in the 90s off the mound, but the Twins have no interest in seeing him try his hand at pitching.
"I didn't pick him [at number] 5 for him to pitch," Johnson said. "We drafted him as a shortstop."
Eleven of the Twins' 16 first round choices since 2001 have reached the Majors. That includes six on the current roster: Kyle Gibson (22nd overall in 2009), Aaron Hicks (14th overall in 2008), Chris Parmelee (20th overall in 2006), Trevor Plouffe (20th overall in 2004), Glen Perkins (22nd overall in 2004) and Joe Mauer (1st overall in 2001).
Twins scout Brett Dowdy recommended Gordon.