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Twins sign shortstop Nick Gordon, send No. 5 overall draft pick to rookie-level Elizabethton

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MINNEAPOLIS - Nick Gordon wasted no time starting his professional career with the Minnesota Twins.

Having grown up in a major league household, Gordon probably won't need as much time to adjust as the average 18-year-old prospect.

The Twins signed Gordon on Monday, just four days after selecting the shortstop with the fifth overall pick in the first-year player draft. He will get the signing bonus value assigned to his draft slot: $3,851,000.

Gordon, who played at Olympia High School in Orlando, Florida, will report to minicamp at the team's minor league facility in Fort Myers, before heading to Tennessee to join the Elizabethton Twins, the rookie-level team in the Appalachian League that starts its season June 19. Why sign so soon?

"Because I'm ready to play," Gordon said at a news conference at Target Field.

His dad expressed the same view.

Gordon's father, Tom Gordon, was a three-time All-Star pitcher who played for eight major league teams over 21 seasons. Nick had a strong enough arm, reaching the mid-90 mph range with his fastball, to follow Tom's footsteps on the mound. But Nick exhibited many intangibles, like clutch hitting and charisma and leadership. Sort of like New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter, the shortstop he's patterned himself after.

"It was just things that were happening that said, 'This guy's a shortstop,'" Tom Gordon said. "You've got to keep him there."

The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Nick Gordon is a left-handed hitter with a strong arm who batted .494 as a senior for Olympia with 17 extra-base hits, 13 steals and 27 RBIs in 99 plate appearances and committed to Florida State. Twins general manager Terry Ryan said the organization sent 16 different scouts to watch him over the last two years. They were sold on the skills, and the bloodline — Nick's brother, Dee Gordon, is a second baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers — put the Twins over the top.

Asked if he'd taken batting practice against his father recently, Nick smiled at his parents sitting in the front row.

"I don't know if it's the major league stuff, but it's all right," Nick Gordon said.

Sitting next to Gordon was Ryan, whose presence at the podium for such an event was hardly perfunctory in this case. For the second straight day, the general manager appeared in front of reporters to announce significant news, after Kendrys Morales signed with the club on Sunday.

Ryan took a back seat to his lieutenants when he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, after a cancerous lump was found in a lymph node in his neck during the winter. He recently took his first scouting trip of the season, to Iowa to evaluate Class A Cedar Rapids, and he has finished radiation treatment. Ryan said his next visit to the doctor is in 10 days.

He's dealing with trouble swallowing, and his voice has been altered by the lack of saliva. Eating isn't the same.

"Depending on what the texture is, food either tastes like cardboard or sawdust," he said.

But Ryan looked as healthy as usual on Monday. He said he's been running three times in the last week, about 2 miles each trip.

"I was proud of that," Ryan said.

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