Nick's father is Tom Gordon, also known as "Flash," who spent two decades pitching in the big leagues. Nick's brother is Dee Gordon, who was a shortstop with the Dodgers and Marlins in 2014.
So how do Dad and brother affect NIck?
"It's a big influence," Gordon said. "They've already been there and done that. They know the steps, so they teach me as well. They help guide me along the way.
"I go off my dad a lot. He's been there the old-school way, so he tells me how it was the old-school way. And my brother, he's here with the new school and he's showing me how it is that way. I get it from the best of both worlds. And both of them played both of my positions."
Nick was asked what was the best advice his dad gave him with the game.
"He told me don’t let things happen to you before you make things happen. You have to be physically and mentally mature. He’s basically saying don’t go onto the field and play scared or be nervous. Be confident, aggressive and go out there to get the job done. It’s been my go-to saying I think about before I play," Gordon said.
Asked which sport is the toughest on both mind and body, Nick Gordon, who played the top three in high school, said, "Baseball. It's more of a mental game, not so much being able to be faster than everybody, catch better or throw further. Baseball is about outthinking the other player and what you’re going to do in a certain situation."
- Gordon has potential to be a rare lefthanded-hitting shortstop who contributes offensively and defensively.
Scouts say Gordon's makeup is among the best in the draft and that he has top-of-the-chart instincts.
June 2014: Nick was the Twins first round pick (#5 overall), out of Olympia High School in Windermere, FL. Only Brady Aiken, Tyler Kolek, Carlos Rodon and Kyle Schwarber went before him. Gordon signed for $3.8 million, via scout Brett Dowdy.
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." (Bollinger - mlb.com - 6/6/14)
In 2015, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Gordon as 6th-best in the Twins organization. They had him at #4 in the winter before 2016 spring training, but moved him the #1 prospect in the Twins' farm system in the spring of 2017.
In 2018, they had Nick as #8 in the Twins' organization. He was at #15 in the winter before 2019 spring camp opened, and at #16 in 2020.
Nick could have been a pitcher: His dad Tom knew he had something special in his son from an early age. Years of outworking opponents off the field led to outstanding batting numbers in his high school career and an elite defensive IQ. But Nick had another trick: His 95 mph fastball made him an excellent pitching prospect.
Oddly enough, it was Tom—the pitcher—who shut down that part of Nick's game.
"The workload was becoming too much," Tom said. "He was starting to really develop and starting to get the size and the strength. That ball was starting to come off his bat real well.
"I noticed his instincts at shortstop: He was always in the right place. Any time the game-winning play was on the line, he was there. Game-winning hit, he was the guy. It was things that was happening, that says, 'He's a shortstop. You've got to keep him at that position."
Back when he was in the big leagues, Tom "Flash" Gordon only needed one thing to tell him when he messed up: bubble gum.
The former All-Star closer played more than two decades in the Major Leagues, but rare was the day when he would sneak out of his house to the ballpark without his son Nick demanding to come along.
Nick had an interesting way of getting revenge on his father if the elder Gordon managed to escape to work without his son in tow.
"I would come home, and his way of letting me know he was mad was he would have his whole mouth full of bubble gum," Tom said. "So basically, he would go to sleep with gum in his mouth, and I'd have to go in and take it all out.
"That's what I was up against with Nicholas. He wanted to be at the ballfield every day. Every single moment."
March 10, 2017: They embraced and mingled for a few minutes during batting practice, and later in the afternoon, bid their goodbyes by the team bus. In a flash, the game flew by at Roger Dean Stadium, but it was a memorable one for Dee and Nick Gordon. The brothers both were in the same game for their respective teams with Nick's Twins coming out on top of the Marlins, 8-2.
Dee Gordon, leading off and playing second for Miami, went hitless in three at-bats. Nick wasn't supposed to play, but the 21-year-old got an at-bat in the ninth inning, lifting a fly ball out to left.
"I hadn't really thought about it until I got out here and saw him talking to his brother before the game," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I didn't know if it would work out, but I was kind of looking for [an opportunity]." Dee Gordon, a two-time All-Star second baseman, was just glad to see his younger brother, who is rated by MLBPipeline.com as the Twins' top overall prospect.
"During stretch, we talked," Dee said. "Then, they were in the cage, and I was back here watching him hit. I talked to him a little bit."
The brothers were hoping to see each other earlier in Spring Training at Fort Myers. Dee was supposed to be on the Feb. 27 trip, but he ended up not going because he was dealing with an eye infection. The brothers were together on the same field. A couple of uncles and cousins were on hand, but not their father, former big league closer Tom "Flash" Gordon. From the dugout, Nick got to observe Dee in action.
"It was great to see him play," Nick said. "It's the first time I've really gotten to see him on the field."
Nick projects to open the season at Double-A, but he is tracking toward playing in the big leagues at some point in the next year or two.
You see your brother out there, you definitely want to be out there with him," Nick said. The more experience Nick gets, the less advice Dee feels he needs to offer. "He doesn't need it," the Marlins' second baseman said. "He knows how to play. He doesn't need my advice. I need his advice. He's raking." (J Frisaro - MLB.com - March 10, 20117)
In 2017, Gordon represented the Twins in the All-Star Futures game. He was the first Twin to get a hit in that game since 2014.
Nick hit leadoff for Chattanooga all of the 2017 season and led the SL in triples (eight) and ranked third in hits (140) and runs (80). He shined in the first half by showing plus power but faded badly in the second half.
- Nick was in sixth grade when he first started dabbling in music.
Nick is coming off the release of his first album, “I Do It All,” which dropped in January 2017. “G-Cinco” started rapping when he was in middle school, but it was only recently that he began sharing his hip-hop stylings beyond his inner circle. Prompted by the urging of a close friend, the son of former all-star closer Tom “Flash” Gordon, and brother of Dee Gordon, decided the time had come to “let people hear this side of me.”
The multi-talented youngster is well aware that mixing music and sports can make for a tricky balance, particularly in terms of image. But he doesn’t anticipate any issues. Not only does Gordon consider himself “a baseball player first,” he’s “never been one to lead a lifestyle that isn’t appropriate,” nor does he feel a need to “go out there and rap about things I don’t do.”
What he does do — along with rapping base hits — is “sit down and listen to beats, and write.” As for which he considers more important when crafting a song, the beat or the lyrics, that’s largely a matter of inspiration within the creative process.
“Sometimes it’s the beat that makes you feel more, and sometimes it’s the things you want to say,” explained Gordon, who cited Drake as one of his favorite artists. “If a beat feels good to me, I try to make a song that’s catchy and people can move to it. Other times it’s more like, ‘Oh man, this beat is something where I want to put down what I feel.”
And in case you’re wondering, yes, he does sometimes rap about baseball — although it’s not always obvious. “There are some messages in there about baseball,” acknowledged Gordon. “Every now and then, if you really listen to the music, you’ll hear them. You’ll be like, ‘He’s talking about baseball there.’”
With spring training right around the corner (Hallelujah!), Gordon will soon be back to playing baseball. He’ll also continue to listen to beats and write — with much the same approach he takes to hitting.
“It’s all about continuing to get better and trusting the process,” Gordon told me. “That’s with everything you do in life. It’s all about reps, and the more you write, the better you get.” (David Laurila - January 28, 2018)
He doesn’t remember exactly how his first song, which he wouldn’t let anyone hear, goes but he does remember one thing about the song dubbed “Domination.”
“It’s bad, it’s terrible,” Gordon said.
A couple years later, Gordon, 23, started letting his parents hear his music and was met with a positive reaction.
“I was like ‘Maybe if I got it to sound a little better,’ because I was recording it on the computer so it was terrible, and then after we started, my dad bought us a microphone,’” Gordon said.
Eventually he got all the equipment he needed, and now Gordon turns to rap music as a creative outlet.
“I try to keep it away from the baseball field,” Gordon said. “It’s more of a fun thing. When I’m here, I’m here to take care of my business.”
Away from the field, Gordon works with two of his friends to produce his music. Gordon, under the name G Cinco, released a nine-song EP titled “I Do It All,” which is available to stream on Spotify and SoundCloud and to purchase on iTunes.
“Off Season,” which was put on YouTube, has more than 587,000 views. (Betsy Helfand - firstname.lastname@example.org - Feb. 21, 2019)
2018 season: Always one to play above his individual tools, Gordon hit his way from Double-A to Triple-A, where he promptly stopped hitting, with a .544 OPS in 99 International League games.
All that was on Nick's mind as he walked with his sister to Target was the delicious shepherd's pie that he was about to cook for his mother, who was waiting at his apartment. Then, his phone rang. It was Triple-A manager Toby Gardenhire.
At first, Gordon thought he might be in trouble or something. Nope -- it was just the call that he'd been waiting for his whole life, throughout a difficult Minor League career marred by chronic gastritis and a lengthy battle with COVID-19 that both hindered him physically and proved untimely in the arc of his career.
Seven years after he was drafted by the Twins, Nick struggled with his health to the point that he dropped from the No. 2 prospect in the organization to being out of the Top 30 altogether. Now Gordon is finally in a Major League uniform, though he did not play in his first game. "It was crazy," Gordon said. "I needed a moment. It was just a lot of feelings, just knowing that I’ve been through a lot and just keep my head and keep going, really, and there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel."
The first call went to his dad, longtime big league pitcher Tom Gordon, who retired in 2009 following a 21-year career. Tom spread the word among most of the family after Nick ran back to his apartment to tell his mom in person. He also turned to someone he knew could relate to the feeling better than anyone else: his half-brother Dee Strange-Gordon.
"He told me congratulations and just to breathe and enjoy it, take it in," Nick Gordon said. "He and my dad both had wise words for me. That's great. They've been there and done it and, man, have seen it all. Just hearing, 'Enjoy it, take it in, breathe. Don't try and think about doing too much, relax.' That definitely makes me feel good and, like, I just need to be myself."
"Man, the call came, and I totally forgot about the shepherd's pie," Gordon said.
It did end up getting cooked, much later in the night. But his mom ended up having to worry about the ground meat and mashed potatoes and gravy and Worcestershire sauce instead. Not that any of them are complaining.
"I was just pacing back and forth in the house," Gordon said. "Felt like I walked a mile. It just felt—it was amazing, it was awesome. Still is awesome. I can't even explain it." (Park - mlb.com - 4/23/2021)
Whenever Tom Gordon watches his sons play baseball, he has a signal to help them find him in the stands—two sharp whistles—though he's no longer able to make it as shrill as he used to, and Dee Strange-Gordon and Nick Gordon sometimes have trouble hearing it.
Nick definitely had trouble finding—or hearing—his father in the raucous crowd of 22,612 on hand at Kauffman Stadium on June 4, 2021, considering they had plenty to cheer for in a 14-5 win for the Royals. That meant Gordon didn't know where to look as he rounded third base on his first career home run in the eighth inning, but that didn't take away from how special the day was for the family, with both parents—Tom Gordon and Yolanda Maloy—treated to the blast and a career-high three hits from their son as they gathered to watch him as a big leaguer together for the first time.
"I actually didn't see him," Nick said. "I didn't see him the entire game. I'm not really sure where he was sitting. That's usually not to hard to find. I usually find him. But I was kind of focused today. Kind of got on the field and really didn't look up too much."
Tom, who enjoyed a 21-year career in the big leagues, wanted to surprise Nick at the ballpark. But he had to scrap that plan once he landed in Kansas City three hours earlier than expected. Not wanting to bother close friend and longtime Royals usher supervisor Bob Stamps so early in the morning, Tom Gordon instead went to the Twins' team hotel, where he found Nick in the lobby. Cover blown.
"I had to call him because I wanted him to know that I was trying to get a room cheaper," Tom Gordon said. "So I had to tell him."
"I want every ball he hits out of the park," Tom Gordon said. "I want every ball to be hit hard. He sure better not make an error, because then I'm fussing about that. I think that comes with it. As much as I love it, I appreciate it. At the same time, I appreciate how much his teammates and friends and family, everybody that's here, love him."
There probably wasn't much fussing to be had on a mostly flawless day from Nick. He made his debut earlier in 2021 after seven seasons in the Minors and logged his first career RBI on June 3, 2021.
Gordon clubbed a solid single up the middle in the first inning, poked a bloop hit to the opposite field in the sixth and got ahold of a cutter in the eighth, reaching under the strike zone to showcase his rare power with a Statcast-projected 423-foot blast to straightaway center. (Gordon hit only 26 homers total in the Minors.)
"I wasn't expecting to hit a homer," he said. "I definitely didn't off the bat think it was going to go that far. I just thought I got it pretty good, and I looked up and it was gone. It felt pretty good."
"I know this is where my dad started, so for him to be able to see me play my first big league game here, it’s definitely meaningful," Nick said. "It’s a blessing for me and my family." (Park - mlb.com - 6/4/2021)
2021 Season: Playing in 73 games and getting exactly 200 plate appearances, Gordon found himself getting a good amount of run for Rocco Baldelli’s squad. There should have been more opportunity had Andrelton Simmons not clogged things for the entirety of the season, but nonetheless Gordon was given a glimpse.
For the past few seasons, I have wondered whether Gordon’s time would come with Minnesota at all. He has a track record of performing well when repeating a level for the second time, and despite missing 2020 with the minor league shutdown, he showed up ready to go in 2021. Miscast as a shortstop, and lacking the power for a second basemen, Gordon needed to reinvent himself. He proved capable of that this season, but where does that leave him going forward?
As a fielder, Gordon saw action at six different positions this past season. The bulk of his playing time came in centerfield (34 G), and his true home of second base was doubled up (17 G). He also made 14 appearances at shortstop, where he’d contest is home, and 12 in the corner outfield with two cameos at third base. Because of his versatility, he was routinely an option for the Twins and fantasy managers alike.
From an all-encompassing perspective, it was a jack of all trades, master of none approach. To be fair, that’s ultimately what a utility player is. Gordon adapting to the outfield on the fly should be seen as an incredible boost for the Twins, and something definitely working in his favor. Recording just over 220 innings in center field, Gordon posted a -1 DRS there with a -0.8 UZR. It’s too small of a sample size to take much from, but he did also record 1 DRS in 110 innings at second base.
Ultimately, I think that Nick Gordon proved he can be useful anywhere on the diamond. The question still remains if Minnesota should want him in that capacity. On the offensive side of things, the former first round pick slashed .240/.292/.355 for a .647 OPS and a 79 OPS+. Minnesota’s last two utility players posted a 94 OPS+ (Marwin Gonzalez) and a 103 OPS+ (Ehire Adrianza) during the final full year that was 2019. Both were terrible in 2020, but I’d imagine that’s not the bar the Twins are looking to clear.
Gordon’s additional strength is that he can run. The Twins haven’t had much of a stolen base threat outside of Byron Buxton in recent seasons. They definitely have not had a capable pinch runner on their bench. Swiping ten bags and being caught just once, Gordon displayed an ability to generate runs on the basepaths this season. (Ted Schwerzler - Oct. 18, 2021)
|Birth City:||Orlando, FL|
|Draft:||Twins #1 - 2014 - Out of high school (FL)|
Gordon has some pop and a feel for the barrel. It is his bat that will determine his ceiling. He is becoming a fine lefthanded hitter who fits nice at the top of the lineup as a table-setter. He has advanced barrel awareness to go with sound plate discipline. He hits line drives to both gaps.
Nick projects to be an above-average hitter with plus bat speed, garnering a 55 grade for his hit tool. His power projects to be below-average with a 40 grade, but a chance for more. He has strength in his swing, stays inside the ball and has gap power. (Spring, 2020)
With good hand-eye coordination and impressive barrel awareness, Gordon is considered a disciplined hitter, but he also gives away at-bats on occasion, and the Twins want him to go up for his plate appearances with a little more focus and concentration. His issues against lefthanded pitchers in 2016 are worth watching, though he’s shown better splits in the past and he could improve against lefties with repetition.
Gordon, who added more than 10 pounds to his wiry 6-foot, 170 pound frame has a chance to be an above-average hitter, with a loose quick stroke that works inside the ball. He has strong bat-to-ball skills which scouts believe will lead to average to above-average power down the road.
Nick has an advanced knack for driving the ball to the opposite field. He has plenty of present bat speed, but the Twins foresee more power as he gets stronger.
He takes good at-bats and is now willing to use the middle of the field. (Spring, 2018)
Gordon is blessed with excellent hand-eye coordination.
He is learning patience at the plate, waiting out breaking balls early in the count and not swing at pitches out of the strike zone. He has good barrel awareness and has become a rather disciplined hitter.
Lefty-hitting Nick can hit lefty pitchers well enough, but it's mostly for singles, with few extra-base hits off of southpaws.
Twins officials were watching Nick take batting practice before a Rookie-level Appalachian League game in 2014 when they noticed something alarming about him.
“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.
Nick is an athletic shortstop. He has a quickness that makes him quite a slick-fielding shortstop. But he has just average range, and he struggles with footwork at times. While he's a 50 grade shortstop, Gordon is a 60 grade second baseman.
Gordon is more about fundamentals than flash, and he’ll need to continue to refine those fundamentals for him to stick at shortstop. Gordon’s instincts and feel for the game are ahead of many players his age—thanks in part to his big league genetics—and that aptitude helps him play above his raw tools.
But Nick struggles with footwork at short. And his throws, though strong, too often lack accuracy. (Spring, 2018)
Opinions on his defense differs ranging from average to above-average. He has soft hands, easy actions and natural instincts for the position. He is so sure-handed, making every routine play, that his defense plays up. He compensates for any lack of range with smart positioning and solid anticipation/instincts for where the ball will be hit, before it is hit.
Gordon's "best-case scenario profile" is a two-way shortstop with the ability to hit for average and power, but he faces questions about whether he will stay at shortstop. He has soft, sure hands and an arm that is at least plus for a 60 grade on the 20-80 scout scale, but he does not have traditional quick-twitch athleticism expected of the position, which could force him to second or third.
“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.”
Gordon had the best arm in the 2014 high school draft class and it is at least plus. He was clocked at 92 mph when he was 15 years old.
Nick is more fundamental than flashy, with a plus arm his best tool. His range and actions don’t stand out, and it’s hard to find evaluators totally convinced of his ability to stick at shortstop.
But the Twins believe he has the aptitude, instincts and short-area quickness to stick at short, but he’ll need to continue to put in the time to learn hitters, properly position himself and refine his footwork. His success at shortstop will depend on his preparation. By most accounts, he has a strong work ethic.
Nick is fast. He was clocked at 6.68 in the 60-yard dash in 2013. However, his speed out of the box plays closer to average. He is not a burner, like brother Dee, but has solid instincts on the bases.
Gordon has such a big swing that it slows him down a tad getting out of the batter's box. But he has above-average speed and runs well under way.
- Nick is always at least a mild threat to steal a base, showing impressive instincts on the bases.
- In 2021 with the Twins, Gordon stole 10 bases in 11 attempts.
September 1, 2014: Gordon broke his left index finger when he was jammed by a pitch and missed the rest of the playoffs with rookie-level Elizabethton of the Appalachian League.
May 4-11, 2016: Nick was on the D.L.
April 2019: Gordon began the year on the IL because of a stomach issue that led to lost weight.
May 13-21, 2019: Gordon was on the DL with a left adductor strain.
August-end of 2019 season: Nick's season ended early with a contusion on his left leg.
July 2020-Nov 2: Nick was on the IL and missed all of the Twins’ summer camp after testing positive for COVID-19. In fact, the virus ended his season completely. Gordon, who was tested at home in Florida before he could report to camp in July, developed some symptoms from the illness.