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Royals Have High Expectations For Gordon

June 7, 2004
By Alan Eskew

KANSAS CITY--Alex Gordon grew up a Royals fan, and now he has a chance to play for them.

The Royals selected Gordon with the second overall pick in the draft. Gordon, a third baseman who hit .382-18-62 as a junior at Nebraska, came to games in Kansas City with his father and brothers as a child.

"Alex Gordon is obviously a guy we had targeted for a long time," Royals scouting director Deric Ladnier said. "We feel like he's an impact bat for us. He's good at third base. He's very athletic with tremendous leadership ability."

Ladnier projects Gordon to be a 25-30 home run hitter with a .300 average in the majors.

"He's a player we feel like that can be a piece of the puzzle we're putting together with regards to the young players we have coming up, Ladnier said. Any time you can secure a type of bat Alex has in the draft and picking (second overall), you should get that and we did get that in Alex Gordon.

"We feel like he's going to be a cornerstone for this organization for many years to come."

Whether Gordon ends up at third base will be determined. The Royals have Mark Teahen, a 23-year-old rookie acquired in the Carlos Beltran trade last year, starting at third. Gordon played first base for Team USA last summer, mostly because Virginias Ryan Zimmermanwho went fourth overall to the Nationalswas also on the team and is a superior defender.

"When you're picking No. 2 in the draft, you're not selecting based on need," Ladnier said. "We've got a guy who we feel will be a middle of order type bat. Those things will take care of themselves as he progresses through our system. We didn't draft on need, but whom we feel like is the best player.

Im not making any implications that were looking at him going to another positionwere not."

Gordon is not averse to changing positions.

"I just want to play," Gordon said. "I just want to hit. If they feel like they need to move me, I'll do anything. I've been out there (outfield) a few times. I can think I can play it fairly decent. If they ask me, I'll definitely try it."

Ladnier said Gordon will start his professional career playing third base, but is athletic enough to play "any of the corner positions on the field," including the outfield.

Ladnier said after Gordon is signed that in a best-case scenario would have him reach the majors in a year and a half to two years. Gordon, a client of Casey Close and IMG, may not be a quick sign.

"I think if history repeats itself, the negotiations process will take some time, which it tends to when you're selecting that high in the draft," Ladnier said.

Gordon was a two-time Gatorade Nebraska Player of the Year at Lincoln Southeast, hitting .483-25-112 in his high school career, but was not drafted.

Gordon comes from a baseball family. His father Mike played at Nebraska, and his older brother, Eric, played at Division II Nebraska-Omaha. His grandfather, Charlie, coached several years at Lincoln Southeast High.

"Growing up my dad would take me and my brother and throw about 300 pitches and then he'd go home and ice his arm," Gordon said. "He was definitely a big influence and I love him for it."

The Royals picked infielder Jeff Bianchi, who hit .575-13-37 in 61 at-bats with Lancaster (Penn.) Lampeter-Strasberg High, in the second round with the 50th overall pick. Bianchi, who has 6.7 speed in the 60, has committed to play at North Carolina State.

In the third round, the Royals chose righthander Chris Nicoll, who was 6-2, 2.34 for UC Irvine while posting a stellar 113-24 strikeout-walk ratio in 112 innings. In the Cape Cod League last summer, Nicoll was 4-1, 1.70 with Orleans.

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