BURLINGTON, N.C.—In front of family and friends, Nick Gordon stole the show on Wednesday night.
With the Elizabethton Twins in town to face Burlington, Gordon was easily the biggest name in a game stuffed with budding star prospects. Burlington had Chase Vallot (the 40th overall pick in the draft), fourth-rounder D.J. Burt, and 17-year-old Italian shortstop Marten Gasparini, who signed for $1.3 million last July.
And even with all those names, Gordon, who got a $3,851,000 bonus from Minnesota, stuck out. He slapped a solid single his first at-bat, then created havoc with his legs after getting hit with a pitch as he stole a base and took third on an error and scored later in the inning on a passed ball.
But the real fireworks came in his fourth at-bat, against lefty Carlos Herrera, who made the mistake of hanging a curveball.
"I was looking fastball but got a curveball and kept my hands back," Gordon said. "I was trying to go the other way but got the right pitch at the right time."
Gordon took the curveball and drove it high, deep and gone to right-center field, well over the video board at Burlington Athletic Stadium. As Gordon trotted around the bases, a few members of his family made a mad dash for the area the ball landed.
They were back a few minutes later, pearl in hand.
Gordon, who is just 17 years old, will now have to face college arms who are more advanced than the ones he faced in high school. He knows that, and realizes he might not be able to star in the Appalachian League the way he did as a prep star in Florida.
"I'm not going to go 4-for-4 every night," he said. "I've got to come ready to play every day and every single pitch. That's the biggest adjustment, playing every day."
Outside the stadium after the game, Gordon celebrated with friends, signed autographs for fans, posed for pictures and generally celebrated the way one would be expected after achieving a dream. And even though he didn't go 4-for-4, he had plenty to smile about.