8 Who May be Great: Alex Gordon
Dice-K isn't the only newcomer who will leave his mark on the 2007 season. These players won't all start the season in the Show, but by year's end SI believes that you'll remember their names
Posted: Thursday March 22, 2007 11:59AM; Updated: Thursday March 22, 2007 11:59AM
To understand the significance of the moment, two years ago, when Alex Gordon first met George Brett, consider where Gordon had come from. He grew up in Lincoln, Neb., and often made the three-hour trip to Kansas City for Royals games. He spent nights taking batting practice in the family basement, smacking balls into a rug hung from the ceiling, not far from posters of Brett. Through high school and college, Gordon played third base (just like Brett), batted lefthanded (just like Brett) and accumulated hits at a prodigious pace (just like Brett). Gordon was the second overall pick of the 2005 draft, taken by the Royals, the same team that had drafted Brett in 1971. Gordon even has a brother named Brett, and it is not a coincidence.
So one can imagine Gordon's reaction when he walked into a conference room at Kaufmann Stadium in the summer of 2005 and there, awaiting his arrival, was Brett himself. At the time, Gordon and Royals management were negotiating his signing bonus -- it would end up at $4 million, the highest ever for a Kansas City draftee -- and they were haggling over the final $200,000. Brett, a team vice president, made an offer to Gordon and his agent. "I said, 'Here's what I'll do,'" recalls Brett. "I'll write you a check for the difference, out of my own pocket. But instead of up front, I'll give you 10 grand for 20 years. I'll do that for you, just because I want to watch you play. I've heard so much s--- about you, I'll do it.' And I would have."
It was an unusual proposal, and Gordon politely declined. Brett tried again, and then again, but Gordon was steadfast. He respected Brett and was flattered by his interest, but he wasn't so starry-eyed that he'd accept less than what he thought he was worth. "It was a pretty funny conversation," says Gordon. "They basically locked me in a room, and he was trying to convince me to sign." Laments Brett, "I thought I was making progress, but" -- and here he laughs -- "I think he might have listened more if I wasn't employed by the Royals."
Gordon finally signed, but not until September, and now, less than two years later, the 23-year-old prospect is viewed as the great hope of a Royals franchise that last made it to the postseason 22 years ago. Though he has faced only Double A competition so far, Gordon has been described as Eric Chavez with more plate discipline, Lance Berkman with more speed (Gordon stole 22 bases last year) and Joe Mauer with more power. And, of course, there are the inevitable comparisons with Brett. "He's a total stud, a five-tool guy," says one AL West scout. "And he's a gamer. I saw him last year, and he dived headfirst into first base to try to beat the throw. In Double A ball!"
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