On June 5, 2014, the Twins appeared to have made a move that would greatly impact their future middle infield for years to come. On that day, they drafted Nick Gordon out of Olympia High School in Orlando, Fla.
Gordon was a fantastic high school player who hit .505 and pitched to a 0.78 ERA over 35 2/3 innings in his last year of high school baseball. Also armed with great baseball genes through his father, Tom Gordon, a three-time All-Star over the 21 years he pitched in MLB, and his brother, Dee Gordon, a two time All-Star himself and current player for the Seattle Mariners, it seemed like Nick Gordon was destined to be an important piece on the Twins for years.
Early on as a prospect, Gordon’s skills were disputed by a number of different evaluators as some thought his glove wouldn’t be able to play at SS and he would never hit for enough power to play at a high level. Some saw a jack-of-all-trades skillset that could develop through the minors.
In MLB.com’s write-up for Gordon in 2014, they detailed him as having “the actions and arm to stick at shortstop” with "plus speed [that] plays well on the bases.” They go on to describe him as utilizing “a solid left-handed swing and uses the whole field to hit.” His talent and ability was enough to land him at No. 37 on their top-100 prospect list that year.
For the first few years, Gordon held his own as he put up a modest 101 wRC+ in rookie ball in 2014 and a 104 mark in 2015 at Low-A. While certainly far from setting the world on fire, simply holding your own in the beginning of professional baseball is noteworthy in itself. Especially considering that Gordon had not yet hit 20 years old after his 2015 season in Low-A.
Both 2016 and '17 helped Gordon’s prospect status a bit more as he bumped his wRC+ totals on the year up to 112 in 2016 at High A and 117 at AA, respectively. What was probably the most important development for Gordon was that he set a new career high for ISO (isolated power) in his 2017 season at AA as he finally broke through the .100 level and ended with a .139 mark on the season.
While ISO is far from being an end-all, be-all statistic, there is a certain threshold that most hitters need to reach to be considered a quality batter in the day and age of power. Just four qualified MLB hitters in 2019 held an ISO below .100 and the names near the bottom of the list don’t inspire much confidence at all, so Gordon adding some power seemed to be a big step forward for him.
Things took a turn for the worse in 2018 for Gordon’s baseball career. After destroying AA to start the year, Gordon was promoted to AAA where he hit for a paltry 52 wRC+ over 410 plate appearances.
Around this time the doubters spoke even louder and prospect evaluators quickly knocked Gordon down into a lower pool of players at the 40 FV level. Gordon was able to bounce back in 2019 at AAA as he hit for a 102 wRC+ with the highest ISO of his career but in a league where offense reigned supreme, these numbers were hardly eye-popping and the damage was already done to his prospect status.
Luis Arráez leapfrogged Gordon, and at the age of 22, he hit better at the major league level than Gordon did at AAA. Now with Arráez most likely penciled in at 2B for the future, Jorge Polanco locked in at SS for a number of years, and Miguel Sanó at 3B at least for the near future, the potential for any starting position for Gordon seems unlikely. Throw in that Royce Lewis will presumably make his debut soon and now Gordon is sitting on the outside looking in at a Twins team that has probably passed him by.
On Oct. 24, the day this article will go up, Gordon will celebrate his 24th birthday, but it could very well be his last one in the Twins’ system. Already armed with a full infield and with some glaring needs in the starting rotation, Gordon looks to be a potential trade chip over the offseason instead of the future infielder that we were promised years ago.
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This story originally appeared at Twins Daily and was re-shared through a collaboration with Bring Me The News.