Royals select Gordon with first pick
Third baseman is solid all-around baseball player
KANSAS CITY -- Third baseman Alex Gordon, taken by the Royals as the No. 2 overall choice in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday, is forecast as an impact bat in the order.
The question is, how soon?
"Best-case scenario, you're probably looking a year and a half or two years," said Deric Ladnier, the Royals senior director of scouting.
That, of course, also depends on how quickly the Royals can sign Gordon, the highest draft pick in organization history.
The Royals selected the University of Nebraska third baseman after the Arizona Diamondbacks chose prep shortstop Justin Upton with the top pick.
"I was definitely excited when I heard the news," said Gordon, who was at Nebraska's baseball practice during the draft. "My brother was at the practice and threw up two fingers so, right then and there, I knew it was the Royals. I'm definitely looking forward to playing for them."
Gordon is rated the second best non-pitching prospect by Baseball America, behind only Upton, and it's easy to tell why. During his junior season at Nebraska, the 21-year-old has batted .382 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs. He has also drawn 58 walks while striking out just 34 times.
Ladnier predicted that Gordon, a left-handed hitter, could have 25 to 30 home runs with a .300 average in the Major Leagues. His ultimate position in the field, though, is another matter.
The Royals already have rookie Mark Teahen, also a lefty hitter, at third base. Their first-round pick of last season, Billy Butler, is also a third baseman tearing up the California League.
Butler, however, is being tried in the outfield as he recovers from a bruised hand with Class A High Desert.
Gordon could wind up at first base or a corner outfield position, but Ladnier said he'd start his pro career at third base and any position change would come later.
"I just want to play," Gordon said. "To be honest, I just want to hit and if they feel like they need to move me, I'll do anything. It's really up to them."
He has played some outfield.
"I think I could play fairly decent out there. If they ask me, I'll try it," Gordon said.
Gordon played first base for Team USA last year and showed the ability to make the transition from aluminum to wood bats with no problem.
His career average for three seasons at Nebraska is .356 with 43 home runs and 185 RBIs in 188 games. He has more walks, 134, than strikeouts, 104. At Lincoln, Neb., Southeast High School, he batted .483 in four years.
"He's an average runner but, surprisingly, he's quicker than you think he is -- he's a big, strong guy. But he can really run the bases, tremendous instincts on the base paths," Ladnier said. "And he has an above-average arm with above-average accuracy."
Position: 3B B/T: L/R
H: 6'1" W: 210
Born: 1984-02-10 Class: 4YR
Medium, sturdy, compact build. Overall body strength. Strong legs. Swing w/ lift for power. Good knowledge of strike zone. Sound hitting approach. Excellent bat speed through zone. Long ball potential. Solid arm. Steady, reliable fielder. Confident approach at plate.
Ladnier also was impressed with Gordon's leadership abilities.
"I think I lead by example. That's kind of what the coaches talk to me about," Gordon said. "Just the way I play the game and how hard I work and show younger guys on our team how to get success."
Gordon was scouted by area scouting supervisor Phil Huttmann.
Being from Lincoln, about four hours from Kansas City, Gordon and his family are well-acquainted with the Royals.
"George Brett is one of his favorite players and always has been. His family is very comfortable with the Royals. In the Midwest, they've grown up with all the ups and downs of the organization and I'm sure Alex is going to be excited about what we're trying to do," Ladnier said.
"We feel like he's going to be a cornerstone of this organization for many years to come."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.