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Twins sign Florida prep star with No. 5 draft pick

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By Mike Berardino

St. Paul Pioneer Press

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Young Nick Gordon knows how to pick his role models.

Asked who he patterns his game after, the Minnesota Twins' newest first-round draftee cited older brother Dee Gordon of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees star Derek Jeter in a conference call Thursday evening with Twin Cities media.

"I want to be the player Derek Jeter is one day," said Gordon, an 18-year-old from Orlando (Fla.) Olympia High School. "He's a leader, he's accountable. He's always in the right place. He's a professional on and off the field."

As for his brother, who leads the majors with 35 stolen bases in 39 attempts ...

"My brother can really play the game," Nick Gordon said. "He plays the game hard and he doesn't take it for granted. Even through the struggles he's been though, he's learned to work his way through them and make adjustments. I want to be able to do that when I get older, and I know I'll be able to do that."

The Twins, who drafted Gordon fifth overall, hope the son of former big-league pitcher Tom "Flash" Gordon, will be the same type of player.

In the meantime, Twins scouting director Deron Johnson mentioned former Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy and current Boston Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew as big-league shortstops who are comparable to Gordon.

The left-handed hitter has added strength to his body and lift to his swing in recent months, giving Gordon confidence to predict that one day he "could hit 20-25 bombs" per year out of the leadoff spot.

Gordon, while lacking the blazing speed of his older brother, also could develop into a threat on the bases, Johnson said. However, the younger Gordon takes a powerful cut, which hampers his time to first out of the batter's box.

Nick Gordon has an above-average arm, Johnson said, and the actions to remain at shortstop for the long term. If he were to come off the position, he could always move to second base or third, Johnson said.

In the 50-year history of the June amateur draft, the Twins have taken a shortstop 11 times previously. The highest draft slot invested in a shortstop for the franchise had been No. 8 overall: Jay Bell in 1984.

This was the third straight year the Twins drafted in the top five overall picks. They took center fielder Byron Buxton second overall in 2012 and right-hander Kohl Stewart fourth overall in 2013.

Like Gordon, Buxton and Stewart were drafted out of high school.

Major League Baseball's recommended signing bonus for the No. 5 pick is $3.851 million. Though Gordon is a Florida State signee, he is expected to sign with the Twins for very close to the approved slot amount.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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