Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Alex Gordon

With speculation heating up on the upcoming amateur draft, in which the Royals have the second overall pick, I though I would offer up some information on a player who is easily one of the top five prospects available and who happens to play in my town.

Alex Gordon is a 6'1", 215 pound junior third baseman, born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska who has started 170 of 174 games since arriving on campus as a freshman. He is a career .342 hitter with a .401 average with runners in scoring position. Here's a quick look at his career stats (Batting Ave/On-base Pct/Slugging Pct):

2003 - 319/425/495 - 7 home runs, 29 walks in 62 games.
2004 - 355/493/754 - 18 home runs, 47 walks, 12 stolen bases in 59 games.
2005 - 388/548/732 - 15 home runs, 52 walks, 20 stolen bases in 53 games (so far).

In 2004, Gordon was the Big 12 player of the year, and appears poised to be only the second position player to earn that award twice. There is really good baseball in the Big 12, so I think this conference gives good players an solid base from which to go into the professional ranks. In Big 12 play, Alex hit .299 in 2003, .297 in 2004 and this year is hitting a whopping .380 in conference games with a .574 on-base percentage and a .684 sluggling percentage. Nearly 40 percent of the runs he has driven in have occurred via two-out hits and he has quite frankly been the best player on three very good baseball teams in his team here at the University of Nebraska.

Gordon also played on TEAM USA last summer and hit .388 with four homers in 24 games. He was named the top offensive player at the FISU World University Baseball Championships where he went 11-21 in 8 contests.

Although he has improved defensively at third base, that is certainly not the strong point of Gordon's game. As a freshman Alex committed 11 errors for a .919 fielding percentage. In both 2004 and 2005 his fielding percentage (take that statistic for what it's worth) has been .935, with 12 errors in 2004 and 11 more in 2005. Gordon played first base for TEAM USA last summer. Gordon is a good athelete with a solid work eithic and could probably make himself into an average defensive major league third basemen.

The question becomes, should the Royals draft Gordon, what position do you put him at? Darrin Erstad was a number one overall pick out of Nebraska in 1995 as a junior, basically at the same developmental level as Gordon, and he played 114 games in A and AAA before reaching the majors (one and one-half seasons). Putting Gordon on a similar track that would put him in Kansas City by NEXT summer or spring of 2007 at the latest. You have Teahen at third, who is showing signs of being absolutely marvelous with the glove and who you hope will be a solid .290 hitter with a load of doubles by next year. We're projecting Huber as our first baseman sooner rather than later and you've got to play Billy Butler by 2007 also (probably at DH).

So...can you play Gordon in the outfield? I have heard nothing on this matter and Nebraska is making a run at the College World Series (they are currently ranked 5th in the country), so they're not about to start shifting guys around just out of curiosity. My guess, given Gordon's athleticism and work ethic is that you could turn him into a left fielder. Purely speculation on my part, but not without some merit.

Now, will the Royals draft him, given that he will probably want a pretty decent signing bonus. My hope is that they will, or at least sign someone who warrants the number 2 pick. There has been speculation that Kansas City will make a 'budget pick' and that is an absolute waste of such a high pick. If you're down below 10th in the draft, then I think signability and money are legitimate factors. When you are this high in the draft, then you have to bite the bullet, draft and pay for the talent.

A good point was made on the KC Star discussion board with regard to the large number of 1st and 2nd round picks the Royals had last year and what they spent (something over $5 million) to sign five players. This year, KC has just one first rounder and one second rounder and logically could afford to pay a big bonus ($4.5 million has been bandied about, I think mostly from the Upton camp, but it has been assumed that Gordon will want the same). If you can draft a guy that could help your offense as early as mid 2006 or 2007, you have to do it. You have to even if you know he has a difficult agent (I have not heard who or if Gordon has an agent yet) and even if you know that after 6 years in the majors you have no chance of keeping him (ala Carlos Beltran). That is the nature of the beast, some guys you can hold onto to, some guys you can't get rid of, and some guys you just have to use and enjoy while you have them.

The Royals made money last year, they will make money this year. Do not be cheap this year, Mr. Glass, open the checkbook and pay the bonus for a legitimate prospect. You might be amazed what happens in the coming years.


At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Obviously I agree completely. A "budget pick" at the top of the draft is a waste.

Congrats on having a good site.


At 2:56 PM, Blogger Craig Brown said...

I think the "speculation" that the Royals would go for a budget pick is just that...Speculation. Probably started by experts like Gammons. The same guys who theorize that the reason the Royals sent Ken Harvey to the minors was to slow his arbitration time.

I know the Royals are a laughingstock among the national media, but I refuse to believe the Royals play this sort of game.

They will go for the best pick at that spot. Luckily for us, I think it will be Gordon. Great talent and like you said, he will help the big club sooner rather than later.

Great write-up.

At 10:09 AM, Anonymous kannc6 said...

The Royals have to draft Gordon if theyare serious about building a club..

At 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who represents him? If it's Boras....

At 1:41 PM, Anonymous FuriousB said...

What about the idea of shifting Butler to the OF? You could try to shift both of them and then the player that picks it up gets to play the field while the other is DH.

At 6:31 AM, Blogger cfos said...

I have been advocating moving Butler to the outfield for a long time. I think you have to look at moving Gordon, too, if you draft him.
I have not heard who his agent is, which makes me think it is not someone high profile.


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