Although high school baseball has not started in many parts of the country, central Florida will be a hot destination for evaluators Wednesday to see two of the top middle infielders in the country, as Nick Gordon (Olympia HS, Orlando) and Forrest Wall (Orangewood Christian HS, Maitland, Fla.) square off.
Available space down the third-base line at Olympia High will be at a premium, because Gordon and Wall are both lefthanded hitters. (The prime prospect pair are also teammates for FTB Chandler on the showcase circuit.)
Wall is one of the best pure hitters in the class and has the potential to be a plus hitter as a pro. From an active set-up at the plate with significant bat waggle and a toe tap, Wall creates plus bat speed and the ball jumps off his bat. He has supreme bat-to-ball ability capable of creating loud contact to all fields in games, and he rarely swings and misses. He has a good eye at the plate, good knowledge of the strike zone and puts together strong at-bats.
The North Carolina commitment burst onto the summer showcase circuit at the East Coast Pro Showcase in Syracuse, N.Y., in June, making more hard contact than arguably any hitter. Wall hit a home run at East Coast Pro and just missed another, with a shot that sailed just to the right of the right-field foul pole. His bat speed and natural strength could enable him to hit for above-average power.
At 6 feet, 176 pounds, Wall has an athletic build and a strong lower half with room to add strength in his upper body. He’s at least a plus runner who has posted 60-yard-dash times of 6.58 and 6.51 seconds at East Coast Pro and the Florida Diamond Club showcase. His speed plays in game action, and he has posted run times in the 4.03- 4.10-second range from home to first.
Wall is a natural athlete with good defensive actions, body control and lateral range. His arm is well below-average, in part because of shoulder issues, and will likely limit him to second base, the position he is playing for Orangewood.
Gordon is one of the most well-known players in the 2014 high school class for a few reasons, not the least of which is being the son of three-time all-star righthander (and 1988 BA Minor League Player of the Year) Tom “Flash” Gordon and half-brother of Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon. Nick first drew attention as a sophomore playing on a high-profile Olympia High team that featured a pair of supplemental-first round picks in righthander Walker Weickel and outfielder Jesse Winker, and outfielder Connor Lien, who received the equivalent of third-round money. The Florida State commitment also starred on the showcase circuit as an underclassman.
In Baseball America’s offseason balloting of scouting directors, they voted Gordon as the best athlete in the high school class, and he has a well-rounded skill set. The athletic, lean and wiry 6-foot-1, 170-pound Gordon has long limbs, a frame that should allow him to add strength–which he has reportedly done over the offseason.
The 18-year-old Gordon has the athleticism and skills to be at least an average defender at shortstop and contribute offensively. Domestic shortstops are not a common demographic at the major league level, especially from the high school ranks. Just two of the 17 qualified shortstops in 2013 were high school draftees.
The game comes easy to Gordon, who is a confident, instinctive player. He has lateral range to both sides and natural, fluid actions, with soft hands to go with a plus arm that is the arguably the best infield arm in the high school class.
Gordon is the rare lefthanded-hitting shortstop, and he has the physical tools to hit for average with secondary skills. He has bat speed with whip through the hitting zone, can work inside the baseball and has a line-drive oriented approach. He showed a tendency to swing and miss to end the fall but generally has good feel for the barrel and strike-zone awareness. He added a higher leg kick and stride toward the end of the summer, but he has toned that down early in the season. He has natural power to the right-center-field gap in games and can flash average raw power to his pull side. With additional strength, Gordon has a chance to hit for double-digit home run power.
Although Gordon regularly posts plus times in the 60-yard dash, his run times out of the box are not quite as fast and his speed generally plays as average or a tick above.
His arm strength translates to the mound, where he has a fastball up to 94 mph and usually in the low 90s on the showcase circuit. Gordon’s curveball shows above-average potential. But he will not pitch routinely for Olympia this spring.
This outing will also give evaluators a look at the future, with Olympia lefthander Juan Hillman taking the mound for the Titans. The athletic Hillman, who attended the Florida Diamond Club showcase as an underclassman, has a quick arm that has touched 90 mph. He shows the makings of a sharp curveball and strike-throwing ability.