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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Will Alex Gordon Ever Live Up to his Hype?

Once upon a time, Alex Gordon was drafted ahead of stars like Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, and Ryan Zimmerman. That actually wasn’t that long ago — it was in 2005 when Gordon left Nebraska following his junior season and was taken second overall by the Kansas City Royals. Gordon was drafted behind Justin Upton who went to Arizona, and ahead of the aforementioned names who were all Top 10 picks.

At Nebraska, Alex was a star, slugging a combined 37 home runs while batting over .365 and OPSing over .1200 in his sophomore and junior years. His first year in the minors, Gordon continued that success belting 29 home runs while scoring 111 runs, driving in 101, and OPSing 1.015. The spectacular season in Double-A ball was good enough to get Gordon a starting gig with the Royals the next season, but he struggled.

His first three years in the bigs, Gordon hit for a low average, struck out a lot, and displayed sporadic power. After a slow start to the 2009 season, he was sent back down to the minors where he regained his stroke. Gordon faired much better in the minors the rest of the year and was set to begin the 2010 season in the majors. Once again he struggled, was sent down to Triple-A Omaha where he did much better, but upon his re-call to the majors he did not perform well.

Gordon is now 27 years old, has accumulated nearly 1500 at-bats in the major leagues, and he seems to have permanently moved from third base to left field. The one-time major prospect had an eye-opening game in spring training Saturday going 3-4 with six RBIs against the Dodgers. His average this spring is up to .333 which could be a positive sign for the season. Kansas City’s expectations for the year are not high, but they’re banking on the future where their loaded minor league system is expected to help them contend in a few years. Whether or not Gordon fits into that picture remains to be seen, but once again the opportunity is there for him to seize.

Many people have given up hope on him, but the type of game he had Saturday reminds us of the potential that resulted in the Royals drafting him second overall ahead of so many other talented players. I don’t think Gordon will ever live up to the hype he built up in college and in the minors, but I still think it’s too early to fully count him out. I know the Royals are still holding out hope.

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