The Minnesota Twins made the shortstop the fifth overall pick of the 2014 MLB Draft, but could his time in the Twins system be coming to a close?
When you look at Minnesota Twins prospect Nick Gordon on paper, he appears to be someone that could be a fixture in the Twins lineup for years to come. When he was eligible for the 2014 MLB Draft, many teams were lining up to take the shortstop out of Olympia High School in Orlando, Fla. and that was for reasons other than his impressive pedigree.
Outside of being the son of former big league reliever Tom Gordon and the brother of Seattle Mariners second baseman Dee Gordon, Nick had developed a reputation all his own in the prep scene. When the Twins made him the fifth overall pick, he was coming off a monster senior season and many thought he would become an adequate hitter at the top of the lineup while flirting with Gold Gloves at shortstop.
Five years after being drafted by the Twins, we’re still waiting for Gordon to make an impact at the major league level. Gordon currently is in an injury riddled season at Triple-A Rochester that has seen him on the injured list twice with acute gastritis and a right adductor strain. With the Twins looking to improve their roster for an October push, it begs the question of what Gordon’s future is with the team as the MLB trade deadline looms next month.
To answer that question, we first have to evaluate Gordon’s current worth. In past seasons, Gordon was a highly regarded prospect within the Twins’ system. Just last year, Gordon checked in at #35 on Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 prospects list. Despite his high status, his 2018 season sent his stock tumbling.
Between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester, Gordon hit .248 and only registered a .653 OPS. A lot of that struggle came in Rochester where Gordon slashed .212/.262/.283 in 99 games. Although he would just make three errors in the field, his performance at the plate was concerning enough to drop him out of the top 100 prospect rankings of Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America and MLB.com.
That fall coincided with the rise of several middle infield prospects within the Twins’ system. Wander Javier missed the entire 2018 season following shoulder surgery, but tore up the Appalachian League with a .299 average, four home runs and 22 RBI as an 18-year old in 2017.
The Twins also used the first overall pick on another shortstop in 2017 when they drafted Royce Lewis, who has struggled at High-A Fort Myers this year (.226, 2 HR, 17 RBI), but is a consensus top ten prospect.
Even Luis Arraez, who wasn’t on the prospect radar at the beginning of this season, has risen quickly through the Twins system thanks to a .331 average through six seasons in the Twins organization and has made an impact after making his major league debut last month.
Just last month, the Twins added even more depth in the middle of the infield by selecting Keoni Cavaco in the first round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Although some see him as a third base prospect, the Twins drafted the 18-year old as a shortstop, creating an even bigger log jam in the minor league system.
All of this has also coincided with the rise of Jorge Polanco and a solid season by Jonathan Schoop at the major league level. With Schoop on a one year deal, there is a possibility that second base could open up next year, but the Twins may make the decision that they want to win now and acquire someone such as Madison Bumgarner along with a reliever for their struggling bullpen.
For many of those trade scenarios, selling teams may inquire about top prospects such as Lewis and outfield Alex Kirilloff, but it’s unlikely the Twins would throw them into a deal. A more likely scenario would be the Twins packaging several mid-to-high level prospects to help get the deal done.
That’s where Gordon may factor into this trade deadline. Aside from his injuries, he’s performed decently when on the field, slashing .295/.333/.459 with two home runs, 15 RBI and six stolen bases in 30 games. Mix in the fact that he’s still only 23 years old and he still has value for a team like the San Francisco Giants, who are at the beginning of a massive rebuild.
For whomever the Twins may be looking to acquire, the price will likely be steep until the market develop. With teams looking to find ways to improve their roster with as little damage to their organization as possible, throwing the 2014 first round pick may be a way to dangle an attractive asset while not damaging their long term outlook.