MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Twins' Gordon stays hot in Fall League win

Minnesota's No. 2 prospect unfazed by HBP; batting .340 in AFL

Twins' Gordon stays hot in Fall League win

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Nick Gordon's Arizona Fall League game Monday afternoon didn't begin as he expected. Batting leadoff for the Surprise Saguaros in the bottom of the first inning, he took a 90-mph fastball off his batting helmet.

The fifth overall pick in the 2014 Draft was caught off guard but not injured by the pitch from Salt River Rafters left-hander Josh Taylor (D-backs). Gordon stayed in the game, reaching base three times and scoring a run. Surprise won, 8-5, on a grand slam from Scott Heineman (Rangers) in the bottom of the eighth.

"It kind of surprised me but it didn't hurt me bad," said Gordon, the Twins' No. 2 prospect. "Nothing really concerned me. They asked me if I was dizzy and I knew who was coaching first, and I wasn't dizzy and I knew who was coaching first, so I stayed in the game."

Gameday

The top position prospect in Minnesota's system and ranked No. 47 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, the 21-year-old Gordon profiles as a solid starter at the big league level. He doesn't have loud tools but he has the line-drive approach, gap power and enough speed and savvy to contribute in several facets of the game. He showed that by hitting .291/.335/.386 with 32 extra-base hits, 19 stolen bases and sound defense at shortstop this summer in the Class A Advanced Florida State League, a pitcher-friendly circuit.

Gordon said he isn't focusing on making any particular adjustments in the Fall League, where he ranks among the league leaders in batting (.339), runs (11), hits (19), steals (five) and on-base percentage (.422). Rather, he's just trying to become more consistent offensively and defensively.

One of the most difficult things Gordon has had to get used to is a baseball season that started eight months ago when he reported to Spring Training. He's not very physical at 6 feet and roughly 175 pounds, but he's holding up well. It helps to be able to lean on a father (former All-Star reliever Tom) and half-brother (Marlins All-Star Dee) with big league experience.

"It's been tough trying to keep my body healthy," Gordon said. "That's a big part of what you have to do for 162 games. You've got to eat right, sleep right.

"I talk to my dad and my brother every day. They've been through it, and that helps a lot. I also grew up around clubhouses, and that helps too."

It appeared that Brett Phillips (Brewers) might carry the Rafters to victory, scoring two runs and driving in two more as Salt River carried a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the eighth. But the Saguaros immediately loaded the bases in the bottom half on a walk, error and hit batter against Akeel Morris (Braves), who recovered to strike out the next two batters before Heineman deposited a 91-mph fastball in the left-field bullpen.

With the win, Surprise (12-10-1) moved into a virtual first-place tie with Peoria in the West Division. The lost dropped Salt River (11-10-1) a half-game behind Mesa for first place in the East.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.