Draft Report: Nicholas Gordon, HS Shortstop

MINNEAPOLIS -- The top of the First-Year Player Draft was unpredictable this year, but the Twins got the player they always wanted with the No. 5 overall pick on Thursday.

After the trio of highly regarded pitchers, Brady Aiken, Tyler Kolek and Carlos Rodon, came off the board with the first three picks, the Twins just had to see what the Cubs would do at No. 4. Chicago went with college catcher Kyle Schwarber, leaving the Twins to select highly athletic shortstop Nick Gordon from Olympia High School in Orlando, Fla.

Gordon, the son of former All-Star closer Tom Gordon and the brother of Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon, had been heavily linked to Minnesota leading up to the Draft, and the Twins got their man. The Twins have $3.85 million available for their first pick.

"We've been locked in on Nick," Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said. "We obviously liked some of the pitchers taken ahead of him but he's been our guy since the start. We like his ability to play shortstop. We like his swing. I think he's going to have power down the road. He's going to stay at shortstop in my mind and has great work ethic. He's a great kid and obviously has big league bloodlines with his brother and his dad. We expect big things from him."

The Twins also had the 46th selection overall on Thursday night. The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pregame show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at noon CT.

Gordon, ranked as the No. 5 overall Draft prospect by MLB.com, was the consensus top infielder in the Draft.

"He's not a flashy defensive player, but he has really good arm strength and he can make the routine play," Johnson said. "He's athletic."

Gordon was able to take in the Draft with his father at MLB Network's Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J., and called it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"Just going in the first round is great," Gordon said. "There's no better feeling than that. It's so unpredictable what's going to happen, so to be picked by Minnesota is the greatest feeling in the world."

Tom Gordon, who pitched in the Majors for parts of 21 seasons and was a three-time All-Star, said that his son benefited from being around the Major League clubhouses growing up.

"He's seen it, he's been around it, he doesn't overdo things," Tom Gordon said. "He doesn't get to a point where anything makes him make a drastic decision. He stays within himself. Over the last year and a half, we saw him take shape and take strides in the things he doesn't forget."

Gordon's speed, arm and defense all rate as plus tools, and he also boasts above-average bat speed and strong wrists at the plate, giving him surprising power from his 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame. The 18-year-old added 15 pounds of muscle over the last year, and will need to continue to add strength as he advances through the Minor Leagues.

"In scouting we look for the projectable kid and he came a long way from this summer," Johnson said. "He gained weight and got bigger. We all liked him going into the fall but he's one of the kids in the Draft that really moved up because of his physical strength."

Gordon said he also believes he can bring some power down the road, and models his game after Yankees superstar Derek Jeter.

"I think I can be a line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter, but I think I can hit 20 to 25 bombs a year. I could be that leadoff guy like Carl Crawford or Derek Jeter," Gordon said. "I pattern my game after those guys."

Gordon, who hits from the left side but throws right-handed, is also regarded as a top prospect as a pitcher with a fastball in the low-90s and a good curveball. But much like MLB.com's No. 1 overall prospect, Byron Buxton, who was also a dominant high school pitcher, the Twins are inclined to keep Gordon as a position player.

"I think I bring more to the table as a shortstop," said Gordon, who didn't pitch at all last year.

Gordon, who is committed to play baseball at Florida State, hit .494 with a .576 on-base percentage in 27 games his senior year at Olympia High School en route to being named Gatorade Florida Baseball Player of the Year for a second straight season. He hit five homers, 10 doubles and two triples with 27 RBIs and 28 runs scored. He also stole 13 bases.

As a junior, Gordon hit.505 with two homers and 30 RBIs, while also going 5-1 with five saves, a 0.78 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings pitched.

He said he visited Minneapolis and Target Field last year while playing in a Perfect Game tournament, and is excited for the chance to play in the Twin Cities despite the cold weather.

"One thing I know is that it's cold in Minnesota, but I gotta make that adjustment," Gordon said with a laugh. "If I'm cold, everyone also will be cold. So I'm going to enjoy playing in a new climate. I've been up to Minnesota and seen the city and the new ballpark, and I fell in love with it. So I'm ready to be on a big league field and take it all in."

Fast and furious: Twins take Louisville fireballer Burdi

Draft Report: Nick Burdi, College Pitcher

MINNEAPOLIS -- Three years after originally drafting him out of high school, the Twins selected hard-throwing right-hander Nick Burdi from the University of Louisville with the No. 46 overall pick in the second round of Thursday's First-year Player Draft.

Burdi, ranked as the No. 34 overall Draft prospect by MLB.com, was a dominant reliever at Louisville with a fastball that can reach triple digits and has touched 103 mph.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander posted an 0.56 ERA with 57 strikeouts and nine walks allowed in 32 1/3 innings with 15 saves as a junior at Louisville this season en route to being named a Golden Spikes Award finalist. The 21-year-old was just as good as a sophomore with a 0.76 ERA and 62 strikeouts and 13 walks in 35 2/3 innings with 16 saves.

2014 Draft Central

He's displayed the type of stuff the Twins envisioned he'd have when they took him in the 24th round of the 2011 Draft out of Downers Grove South High School (Illinois), and now they're happy they had the chance to select him yet again.

"He got a lot better," Twins scouting director Deron Johnson said. "He started throwing a lot harder. We pegged him as a reliever in high school and we saw potential in the fastball getting better and it has."

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pregame show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at noon CT.

Burdi is known for his overpowering fastball but also possesses a slider that can reach the low 90s. He throws a changeup but is expected to be a two-pitch reliever as a professional and profiles as a hard-throwing closer.

"The slider is already a plus pitch but the changeup is more of a show-me pitch," Burdi said. "It's something I'll have to work on."

Burdi said he first reached triple digits on his fastball while throwing in the Cape Cod League in between his freshman and sophomore season at Louisville. He threw 93 mph as a high school senior but gained velocity in college, and is perhaps the hardest-throwing pitcher in the Draft.

"There's very few of them," Johnson said. "Throwing the ball that hard is no easy task. The kid is blessed with a really good arm. And he has a really good slider that's up to 92."

Burdi was also one of college baseball's best closers over the last two years, breaking Louisville's record for career saves. He was named a Louisville Slugger All-American by Collegiate Baseball and was also a First-Team All-Conference selection this year.

"I'm known as kind of a shut-down guy and that's what I'm hoping the Twins use me as," Burdi said. "Whether it's the seventh, eighth or ninth inning, I want to be that guy and help out the team as quick as possible."

With his impressive fastball-slider combination, Burdi could rise through the system quickly with some Draft pundits saying he could be in the big leagues as early as next season. Johnson, though, cautioned that Burdi will need to improve his command at the Minor League level before he reaches the Majors.

"He's a mature kid, but professional baseball is totally different than pitching against Kentucky and Western Kentucky," Johnson said. "But this kid has a good arm and throws hard. He's got out pitches."

Burdi said his goal is to try to reach the big leagues as soon as possible to help out the Twins but said he knows he won't get there without hard work.

"I've always been a confident player," Burdi said. "I believe myself and believe I'm as good as anybody in this Draft. I'm just happy to be selected by the Twins. If they decide to put me in the Majors next year or this summer, it would be an honor. So for me, it's just about working hard to make this dream a reality."