Appy notes: Gordon makes good impression

Twins first-rounder focused on gaining strength and staying healthy

Nick Gordon was Gatorade's Florida Baseball Player of the Year in 2013 and 2014. (Olympia High School)

By Bob Sutton / Special to | June 27, 2014 10:00 AM

Nick Gordon is making a good first impression with the Elizabethton Twins. The 17-year-old shortstop was the Minnesota organization's first-round selection this month and hasn't missed a beat, producing four hits in his pro debut and belting his first homer Wednesday.

"It was pretty crazy for me, coming out here and competing with these guys," Gordon said. "Pro ball is every kid's dream. I decided pro ball is something I wanted to do [now]."

So he bypassed his scholarship to Florida State and jumped right into action with Elizabethton.

The attention will follow, but he's used to that. What he'll adjust to are the daily baseball assignments, so he figures one priority will be adding strength to his 170-pound frame.

"Getting strength and staying healthy," Gordon said of some of his summer goals. "Pro ball is every day. There's no days off."

Gordon said he expects the grind to be an adjustment from high school. He should have plenty of support around him as the Elizabethton roster is stocked with high picks from this year's Draft, and many of those draftees are seasoned college players.

Second baseman Pat Kelly said he didn't know the lineup would be so stout when he took the assignment to the Appalachian League team.

"For the most part, everybody just hits," said Kelly, who was picked in the 12th round after his junior season at Nebraska. "[The main thing is] to play well and be consistent."

Gordon and Kelly figure to be fixtures in the middle infield for Elizabethton. In some ways, it looks like Gordon, who's one of only three teenagers on the roster, will fit in with his new teammates.

"Just an all-around pretty good player," Kelly said of Gordon. "He handles it unbelievably well. He handles his business the right way. He doesn't put it all on himself. He keeps that [first-round Draft] stuff to himself."

Gordon is the son of former big leaguer Tom "Flash" Gordon and the younger brother of Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon. He knows about the attention and scrutiny associated with those bloodlines.

"It's been there because of my dad and my brother," he said. "I try to just go out and be myself."

In brief

Daunting debut: The pregame was more unsettling than the game action for Burlington Royals left-hander Foster Griffin, the first-round pick of the Kansas City Royals. He made his pro debut June 23 at Bristol, dealing with an uncomfortable bullpen session. "I guess it was just nerves," Griffin said. "I got out there and it wasn't too bad." He didn't allow a run, working one-plus innings on a 30-pitch count.

Rough opening: The first home game for the Bristol Pirates ended with a loss to Burlington and included a disturbing moment in the third inning when Bristol second baseman Ulises Montilla left on a stretcher with a serious leg injury after a collision with shortstop Trae Arbet. "It wasn't a good sight," Bristol manager Edgar Varela told the Bristol Herald Courier. "That was a big shock when he went down." Montilla batted .308 in his four games, but a timetable for his return hasn't been established. It was a historic opener because Bristol played the past 19 seasons as a Chicago White Sox affiliate.

Chin up: Second baseman Gerald Chin of the Danville Braves went 6-for-12 with seven RBIs in a three-game series at Johnson City. It created a nice opening week for the 21-year-old from Panama. "I've been working and listening to the coaches," Chin said through an interpreter to the Johnson City Press.

Bob Sutton is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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