Nick Gordon's Gap Power Has Twins Pumped
Best Player: Twins officials were watching Nick Gordon take batting practice before a Rookie-level Appalachian League game in 2014 when they noticed something alarming about their first-round draft pick.
"He was such a skinny kid, he couldn’t hit the ball over the fence, even in (batting practice),” said Rob Antony, the Twins’ interim general manager. "(It’s the) difference between (age) 18 and 20—nobody’s worried about that now.”
Heavier and far stronger, Gordon can reach the fences now, but it’s his consistent gap power that has the Twins excited, especially from a shortstop. Gordon racked up 32 extra-base hits for high Class A Fort Myers, hitting .291/.335/.386 as one of the FSL’s youngest players. The league as a whole slugged .356.
"He’s going to be a dependable shortstop, maybe not as flashy as some, but he’ll make all the plays,” Antony said. "And for that position, now that he’s grown into his body, he’s got a lot of pop.”
Best Pitcher: Most Tommy John patients baby their rebuilt elbow for awhile, afraid to put much stress on the ligaments. Not Fernando Romero. After losing most of two seasons to surgery, he was like a kid with a new toy this spring, eager to take his pitching arm out for a spin.
"We’ve had to hold him back a little bit, but it’s not easy. He loves to pitch,” Antony said. "We’re trying to build him back up, and he’s trying to strike out every hitter.”
The 21-year-old Dominican did a pretty good job of it, using a fastball that touches 95-98 mph, a slider that hits 90, and a changeup "that has a really sharp break,” Antony said, to whiff 90 batters in 90 innings at two Class A levels, and he posted ERAs less than 2.00 at both. "He’s a starter with three strikeout pitches,” Antony said, "and he’s fearless about using them all.”
Keep An Eye On: Zach Granite has developed into an elite basestealer, he’s added muscle to give his swing some pop, and his plate discipline has the 23-year-old outfielder tagged as a future major leaguer. But keep that quiet, OK?
"I shouldn’t be talking about this guy—he’s (Rule 5 draft) eligible” this winter, Antony said in a stage whisper. "But he’s earned his way into prospect status. He’s moved way up.”
Bailey Ober Gets Off To Tremendous Start
The 25-year-old righthander was added to the 40-man roster in November because of his gaudy numbers.
In Double-A Chattanooga, Granite hit .295/.347/.382 with 56 steals in 127 games.