2011 Dodgers Player Profile: Dee Gordon, Speeding Toward Greatness?

Dee Gordon
Birthdate - 04/22/1988
Height / Weight - 5'11 /150
Bats / Throws - L/R
Seminole Community College, 4th Rnd, No 127, 2008

Let us start this off with 10 questions with Dee Gordon by MiLB

Below we are going to talk about his defense, this is what Dee had to say about hoping to improve in that area:

MiLB.com: When people talk about your defense, they always bring up two things -- your great range and the high number of errors you make. How do you respond to the criticism about the errors?

Gordon: You know, numbers don't lie. I have [made a lot of errors]. I've made them on tough plays, and I've made them on some plays where people say, "Hey, I've seen you make that play before." ... I promise it'll be a different scenario this year, though. I've been out here [in Arizona] working that out. I've been finishing and finalizing my defense, and I feel like I'm ready to go.

[The errors] were mainly me. It was me learning. If I get to a ball I should get that out, but just because you got to it -- just because you caught the ball, doesn't mean you'll be able to get the out. Don't give him second on a bad throw. Let him stay on first and then get the double play instead. That's something I've been learning. I've been learning the game, the speed of the game, the timing the different plays. I've been learning a lot out here, and I'm ready for a good 2011.

 

Headed into 2011 Dee Gordon is not the Dodgers unanimous top prospect; however, Dee Gordon is numero uno on many sites who do this for a living. He's number one with Baseball America, Baseball HQ, and John Sickels. He's number three on Brandon's list here at TBLA, and for Baseball Prospectus.

Gordon has only been in the Dodger system for 2 1/2 years but he has already garnered many awards:

  • 2009 All-Star SS in the MidWest League
  • 2009 MidWest League Prospect of the Year
  • 2009 Co-MVP in the MidWest League
  • 2009 Topps MWL player of the year
  • 2010 All-Star SS in the Southern League
  • Represented the Dodgers in the 2010 Futures game at SS. The last Dodger prospect to do that was Chin-Lung Hu who did it in 2007 while winning the Futures MVP award. We all know how well that turned out as Hu has gone on to have a marvelous career.

He is said to have 80 speed on a scale of 20 - 80, meaning you can't be any faster then Dee Gordon. He is said to have great lateral range at SS, taking enough hits away that his many errors are not indicative of his value on defense. He hits left-handed, which means he can take further advantage of his speed.

Brandon Lennox: Number Three Prospect

Dee Gordon was a bit of a surprise as the Dodgers 4th round pick in 2008 because he had been ruled ineligible as a college sophomore due to transcripts problems and didn’t even play baseball in the spring of before the draft.  Nevertheless he had a great professional debut in the Pioneer League in 2008 and has been a top Dodger prospect ever since.  His 2009 season in the Midwest League was one to remember since he was named league MVP with 73 stolen bases and a .301 average, and that earned him a promotion AA in 2010.  While Gordon was caught stealing 20 times and posted an on base percentage of just .332 while in Chattanooga, he showed a ton of raw talent and was voted as the most exciting player in the Southern League.  He was also rated as the Dodgers best defensive infielder by Baseball America despite making 37 errors for the Lookouts.  He already has a plus arm, and his athleticism leads scouts to believe that he’ll be able to make spectacular plays at the big league level.  In addition, several scouts ranked his speed as an 80 and the 20-80 scouting scale, which is a rating rarely given out.  Gordon has improved his bunting skills over the past few years, but he does need to be more patient at the plate and learn to take more walks.  He also needs to put on more muscle, which is something he struggled with since turning pro.  After the season Dee played in the Puerto Rican Winter League and led the league with a .361 average with a career high .889 OPS.  He then participated in the Dodgers Winter Development program, and was invited to the Dodgers big league spring training even though he isn’t on the 40 man roster.  Gordon will turn 23 years old this upcoming April, and will most likely spend 2011 in AAA.  He is the Dodgers heir apparent at shortstop, and if Furcal’s option doesn’t vest he could be the team’s starter as early as 2012. 

Below are the quotes about Dee Gordon from the various prospect sites.

John Sickels: Grade B, Number One Prospect

1) Dee Gordon, SS, Grade B: I still love the speed and athleticism, but he needs to do a better job using it. Stolen base success ratio and error rates are troublesome.

Baseball Prospectus: Number Three Prospect

The Good: Gordon's athleticism generates plenty of excitement. He has good bat speed and a knack for contact, while his top-of-the-line speed makes him a danger to beat out any ground ball to the left side. He should be able to steal 50-plus bases per year. He has tremendous range to both sides and a strong arm.
The Bad: Scouts have difficulty wrapping their head around Gordon, as he'll turn 22 in April yet still plays with the rawness of an 18-year-old. He needs to develop a more patient approach at the plate, and while he has all of the tools to be a plus shortstop, he's so sloppy there that some scouts would like to see him tried in center field. His thin, lanky frame has no power projection.
.

Baseball America: Number One Prospect

Fastest Baserunner, Best hitter for average, Best athlete, and Best defensive infielder

Baseball HQ: Number One Prospect

Strengths: Plus speed. Athleticism/projectability, moderate bat speed/moderate power/BA, arm strength.
Weaknesses: Raw/inexperienced.
Comments: Son of former MLB reliever Tom Gordon had a solid consolidation season at Double-A. Plus (4.1) raw speed, athleticism, and ability to put the bat on the ball make him into a true top-of-the-order hitter. Stole 73 bases in '09 and 53 in '10. Is still raw defensively, but has the athleticism to stay at the position or be an impact player in the majors. Should see his professional debut at some point in '11 and could become a SB leader for years to come.

Baseball HQ has two scouts, the one who wrote up the Dodgers made him the number one prospect. However, the other scout had this to say about Dee Gordon:

To be blunt, I think he's one of the most overhyped prospects of recent memory. I don't see him hitting for BA or power and I also am not a fan of his defense. Outside of speed/athleticism, I'm not impressed.

My own views:

Dee Gordon was a steal in the fourth round in a draft of later round steals for Logan White. Still, for all the excitement Dee Gordon generates, the numbers in 2010 didn't really back it up. At 22 years old he did okay in the Southern League considering he jumped a level, but then DeJon Watson has told us he doesn't really consider moving from the Midwest League to the Southern League a jump. A peer of his, Starlin Castro - who, at barely 20 years old, is two full years younger then Dee - put up a .990 OPS before being recalled to the major leagues, where he ended up with a .755 OPS. That, my folks, is turning a raw skill set into real production.

We keep hearing how raw Dee Gordon is because he didn't play much high school baseball, but he's now got 2 1/2 years of professional baseball under his skinny belt. When the 2009 MVP season ended the scouts said he had gap power, but you don't have 80 scale speed and hit a measly 17 doubles per season if you have gap power. 

If it was not for the scouting reports, he would not make my top ten. As a singles-hitting, error-prone SS, whose only skill appears to be speed, he is not my cup of tea, but you can't discount what most of the the scouts say, so hopefully they are right, and he is more then just another speed merchant, but is a baseball player.

Still you can't stay raw forever, at some point, that "athletic ability" has to start turning ground balls into outs, and not extra bases for the other team, has to start learning how to steal bases at a better clip then what his "80" speed has shown so far, and simply has to do a better job of getting on base. According to most of the scouts, he has the athletic ability to be an exciting major league baseball player; hopefully in 2011 the numbers start to back up what the scouts have been telling us since they first saw him play in 2008, because he's on the perfect time table to be the Dodgers starting SS in 2013, if not 2012.

Sure no one cares about errors in the minor leagues, but at AA I kind of care. Maybe I shouldn't, but unless this kid is really taking more hits away then he's giving away I think Ned will care. It is time for that error trend to reverse and not keep growing.

                                                   
Year Age Tm G Ch PO A E DP Fld%
2008 20 Ogden 59 307 97 186 24 38 .922
2009 21 GreatLakes 127 574 197 343 34 78 .941
2010 22 Chattanooga 133 581 199 345 37 73 .936
3 Seasons 319 1462 493 874 95 189 .935

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/16/2011.

Trivia

Per Baseball Prospectus:

 No player drafted 127th overall has gotten more than 616 major-league at-bats (Larry Lintz, 1971).

Most of you know that Dee Gordon is the son of Flash Gordon, who pitched for just about everyone except the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1988 - 2009. Who was the greatest Los Angeles Dodger to play whose father played major league baseball?

Contract Status

Under team control longer than Frank McCourt will own this team.

Stats

Year Level Age DBL TRP HR SB CS BA OBP SLG
2008 Rookie 20 13 3 2 18 5 .331 .371 .430
2009 A 21 17 12 3 73 25 .301 .362 .394
2010 AA 22 17 10 2 53 20 .277 .332 .355

2011 Outlook

Dee Gordon has a major league camp invitation to spring training so he can get some time in with the big boys. I expect he will then return to AA and dominate with the bat like he did in the Puerto Rican League. Maybe he starts in AAA, I don't really know. It would be incredibly unlikely for him to see any time with the Dodgers before September, but you never know. He may consolidate his raw skills and just like Starlin Castro force his way onto the team if Rafy goes down and the offense needs a spark. 

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