ORLANDO — While most of the 20 or so scouts at the Montverde vs. Olympia game were there to see top shortstop Francisco Lindor, they got an extra treat with Olympia's young squad. Olympia has three very interesting underclassmen . . .
Jesse Winker, of, 2012
Winker plays centerfield for Olympia, but profiles best as a corner outfielder. He has a strong, 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame and was noticeably stronger, especially in his legs, than he was this summer.
"I've been working out a lot, working out my legs," Winker said. "I'm not a real big upper-body guy, but I've just been working really hard. I go to Titus Sports Academy three times a week and I've been working really hard."
Winker uses those strong legs to produce some above-average power from the left side of the plate. But he hasn't been able to show as much power as he'd like this season because pitchers aren't risking throwing anything near the plate. In his game against Montverde, Winker drew three walks and flew out to left-center field, just getting under a pitch on the outer half of the plate.
"Jesse's getting nothing to hit," Olympia head coach Randy O'Neal said. "It's been a really hard season for him. They don't pitch to him and everything is three feet outside or over his head and it's been tough. When he does get something to hit, he's been hammering it, but it's been a hard season for him. He takes his walks and that's one part he's going to have to do. I may even have to start hitting him leadoff at some point. If they want to start off a game with a walk, we'll end up scoring somehow."
Winker, who is verbally committed to Florida, is trying to take what the pitchers give him.
"I'm trying to hit the offspeed better," Winker said. "Just throw my hands hard and use all fields, that's what I'm really trying to do. If it's inside, hit it to right, and if it's outside, be disciplined enough to just take it to left for a good, hard single."
Walker Weickel, rhp, 2012
Weickel started the game and overpowered most of Montverde's lineup.
"My last start was about eight days ago, so I was just focusing on my mechanics and trying to keep my fastball low in the zone," Weicklel said. "They're a really aggressive fastball-hitting team, so I was really trying to get some run on my ball and keep it low in the zone and hopefully get them to chase over the top of it."
Weickel did just that. He used his big, 6-foot-6, 200-pound frame to drive his upper-80s to low-90s fastball down in the zone.
"Walker looked good," said O'Neal, who pitched in the big leagues for parts of seven seasons. "He went out there and attacked more, he threw more strikes today and that's the key to pitching—stay ahead and limit your pitches. When you attack and throw strikes, it widens the strike zone and the umpire starts calling more strikes. So, it gives you more opportunities to get strikeouts or put the ball in play and we have a good defense."
Weickel, who is verbally committed to Miami, was spotting his fastball pretty well and staying on top of the pitch, but his secondary stuff—mainly a curveball and a changeup—are still a work in progress. The curveball was inconsistent in both shape and control.
On the underside of Weickel's hat, in addition to his number and a motivational bible verse, he has a phrase he likes to think about when he's on the mound: "Be big. Be bold. Be better." Weickel has a busy summer in front of him on the showcase circuit and he's working to take his game to the next level.
"This season, I'm really trying to maximize my dominance out on the mound," Weickel said. "Just come in there and no holds barred from first pitch to last pitch—really attack the zone with all pitches and not relying on just one. My fastball's my dominant pitch, but I'm really looking to establish a cut fastball, as well as a hard changeup to complement each other and further my repetoire."
Nick Gordon, ss/2b, 2014
Dee's little brother is the starting second baseman for Olympia as a ninth grader and sees some time at shortstop, as well. He bats lefthanded and throws righthanded.
"He's doing very well," O'Neal said. "I started him off hitting ninth and he's moved up to sixth and now he's moved up in the two-hole. He does a lot of things for the offense. He has good bat speed, good bat control and can do a lot of things with the hit and run—although I haven't had to yet. But he can bunt, he can steal bases, he does a lot of good things and he's going to be a very good player, especially as a freshman."
Nick says having a former big leaguer for a dad (Tom Gordon) and Baseball America's No. 26 prospect as an older brother definitely helps.
"It helps me a lot because when I'm down and think things aren't going well, my dad's there to tell me to just relax and have fun out there," Gordon said. "My brother helps me with my hands and my fielding and all that. I'm really close with my brother. After every game I call and talk to him and he'll ask me how I did and I'll ask him how he did. We've got that real good, brother relationship."
O'Neal said Nick and Dee are comparable players, from what he's seen.
"I've seen Dee—he used to come up here and workout when he was at Seminole Community College," O'Neil said. "He works out here sometimes and he's very similar in body, but I think Nick's going to be a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger, so it's going to be very interesting to see how he develops over the next few years."
Nick, who stands 5-foot-10 and 140 pounds, is a little more bold with his assesment of how the two brothers compare at the same age.
"I didn't really get to see him play that much as a ninth grader, but he was real good," Gordon said. "I don't know if he could touch me, though."
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