Nick Gordon may have only six pro games under his belt, but he has a clear idea of what he should be trying to accomplish in his debut season.
"I knew there was going to be some stiff competition," said the 18-year-old Twins prospect. "I'm excited to come out and play against guys who are really ready to play every day. That kind of competition matures you and teaches you, and I love learning."
Gordon went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer -- his first professional long ball -- and two runs scored in Rookie-level Elizabethton's 8-0 win at Burlington on Wednesday.
Son of three-time Major League All-Star Tom Gordon and brother to Dodgers infielder Dee Gordon, Nick was the fifth overall pick in this year's Draft by Minnesota. He was selected out of Olympia High School, where he batted .494 with five homers and 10 doubles over 27 games his senior season.
He hardly slowed down in his first pro game, going 4-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and a walk, but he was 1-for-17 between that debut and Wednesday's game. He's felt locked in the whole time.
"I think I'm getting into groove of hitting hard-hit balls," Gordon said. "You can't go out looking for a multi-hit game every day. Multi-hit games are something to cherish. But I do look to hit balls hard, and I have been doing that every game."
Gordon singled in the first inning, grounded out in the third and was hit by a pitch by reliever Robinson Yambati in the sixth. He went to third on a passed ball and a throwing error by Royals catcher Chase Vallot, then crossed the plate on another passed ball.
The left-handed hitter flied out to the opposite field in the eighth, then stepped in against Carlos Herrera with runners on first and second in one out in the ninth. Herrera surprised Gordon, but he made a quick adjustment.
"I was looking for fastball and he threw me a curveball that ended up being the perfect pitch to hit," Gordon said. "He hung it a little bit and it missed where I think he wanted to go."
Gordon pulled the ball over the right-field fence.
"It felt good, really good," he said. "I wasn't trying to hit a home run there or looking for that at all."
He's now hitting .269 and boasts a .310 on-base percentage. His opportunity to make a big splash in the pros comes during a breakout year for his older brother. Dee Gordon leads the Major Leagues with 39 stolen bases and is batting .276.
"It's just blessing for me and my family that things are going so well for me and for him. We're really cherishing this time, and we thank God for it," said the Twins prospect.
Unlike Dee, who didn't start playing baseball competitively until his senior year of high school, the younger Gordon has long planned to go into the family business. In addition to playing shortstop, he pitched through his first three high-school seasons.
"I always wanted to play baseball," he said. "I played other sports, but baseball was always my main sport."
His three-RBI performance backed Stephen Gonsalves, who permitted two hits while fanning nine over six innings in the shutout. The victory marked Gonsalves' first decision, and the left-hander has a 1.80 ERA to show for two 2014 starts.
"We always expect that out of him," Gordon said. "He's a great pitcher and an ace for us. We knew we've just got to give him some run support and we have a really good chance of coming away with a win."