Gordon following in footsteps of dad, brother
High school standout is an intriguing two-way prospect for the 2014 Draft
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The summer showcase thing is old hat for Nick Gordon.
This is the Florida high school standout's second straight East Coast Professional Showcase. An underclassman a year ago, Gordon made a name for himself in the field and on the mound as an intriguing two-way prospect for the class of 2014. At the time, with the focus on the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, Gordon was put on a follow list -- someone to watch in the future.
That future has arrived, and Gordon is one of the bigger names in what looks like a pretty deep prep class for next year. While Gordon knows scouts are watching him more intently now, he feels perhaps last year was more of a challenge, even if his ultimate goal has remained the same.
"It's a little bit more pressure, but it's the same game," Gordon said. "Last year, it was tougher on me, because guys were bigger and stronger than I was. I came out and made a point, played well. This year, I'm trying to do the same thing. I'm not the same size yet, but I've gotten a little bigger and stronger, and a little bit faster. I see a big difference from last year."
Having the spotlight on him is nothing new for Gordon, and if he were ever to have trouble with it, he can stay within the family for advice. His father, Tom -- known to most as Flash -- spent two decades pitching in the big leagues. His brother, Dee, is currently a shortstop with the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate and has spent time in the Majors. They've paved the way for the next Gordon, and Nick clearly uses their experiences to help him through this process.
"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."
Gordon has potential in both spots. He pitched here on Wednesday and threw well, with a 90-92 mph fastball while flashing good breaking and offspeed stuff. But as smooth as he might be on the mound, more see him as a future shortstop, one who can really play the position defensively, spray line drives to all fields and use his speed (he ran a 6.65 60-yard dash) to his advantage. And that suits him just fine.
"I think I bring more to the table as a shortstop," said Gordon, who made a spectacular defensive play, while playing second, and also hit a single and stole a base on Friday. "I think my game is more polished at my position. I can bring more to the team as a shortstop. If that doesn't work and I have to be on the mound, then I can provide that, too."
Gordon may prefer to stay in the infield at the next level, but he also was clearly raised with a respect for the game and how Major League organizations go about their business. If a team calls expressing an interest in his pitching skills come Draft time, he'll get on the bump as asked.
He's also aware that pitching can serve as a pretty good insurance policy for any team taking him. His father was actually drafted as a shortstop, though he never played the position professionally. It's interesting that after spending 20-plus years on a big league mound, Flash has encouraged his two sons to stress playing every day.
"He has a feel for the infield, too," Gordon said about his father. "He tells me, 'Be athletic.' He wants me to be an athletic shortstop. I can always fall back on pitching, because I can do it well. I have the genetics, it comes from him, and he shows me this and that. He likes shortstop, and I love it, too, so he kind of leads me in that direction."
This and that does include working on a curveball, Tom Gordon's signature pitch for much of his career. His son admits he can't quite throw it like dad, though he's often reminded of just how nasty a pitch it was.
"Not yet, but I'll get it," Nick Gordon said. "It was filthy. He shows me video all the time. He tells me, 'If I was pitching, you would not hit it.'"
Such is life in the Gordon household, with a father who was an All-Star who both won and saved more than 100 games, and a brother who has played in parts of three Major League seasons. The expectations with carrying a famous name, especially in the infancy stages of a baseball career, can often be an albatross. But it's clear Gordon wears it with pride and is motivated by the level people assume he'll play at.
"They look up to you and expect you to live up to the name," Gordon said. "That's what I love. I love the pressure. I love going out there, people looking up to me and saying, 'That's a Gordon, so he should be good.' I like to go out there and prove them right."