Junior National Team experience helps Gordon settle into pro ball
By Nick Ashbourne
Canadian Baseball Network
Miles Gordon's was thrown a curveball on draft day, but his first taste of professional ball has been far less full of surprises.
The Oakville native expected to go in the fifth round to one of the Milwaukee Brewers, Boston Red Sox, or Arizona Diamondbacks, only to be swept up by the Cincinnati Reds with the 10th pick in the fourth round.
It was a shocking turn of events for Gordon and the small gathering of family members watching the draft.
“It was a big surprise. My mom looked at me and just started crying," he recalls. "It was awesome.”
Gordon signed with the Reds and reported to the Arizona League Reds, making his professional baseball debut on July 15. While many players find the jump to the minor leagues overwhelming, Gordon felt very much at home thanks to his experience traveling with the Canadian Junior National Team.
“The Junior National team experience helped out a lot," he says. "When we got down here it wasn’t really eye-opening because I’ve done this before.”
Not only is Gordon comfortable with the level of play, he also is playing with some familiar faces. Guelph native- and fellow Junior National Team alumnus- Isaac Anesty is Gordon's teammate and roommate on the AZL Reds.
“It makes things a lot easier. You go in the first couple days you try feel things out and go in and get your legs underneath you," Gordon says. "But also having someone you’re comfortable talking to helps for sure.”
Anesty isn't the only fellow Canadian Gordon can expect to see on his climb up the organization. Of the 30 Canadians drafted in 2015 five of them went to Cincinnati, and four signed including Darren Shred (Brampton, Ont.) and JD Williams (Brampton, Ont.) .
Will McAffer (North Vancouver, BC) did not sign.
All-in-all it would be hard for Gordon to ask for more when settling into an organization that he didn't know very much about coming in.
So far the results haven't jumped off the page as he's posted a .256/.289/.326 line in his first 10 games, but Gordon is far from concerned.
“I think I’m 40 at-bats in, I’m not worried yet," he says. "We just got down here and have only been playing for two weeks. It’s not really how you start, it’s how you finish.”
Already possessing excellent speed and defensive abilities, Gordon knows that working on his hitting needs to be the focus of his developmental plan.
"Hitting is a little bit of an adjustment," he says. "But I believe it’s going to come around with time."
Gordon has a short line-drive stroke that combined with his speed could have him hitting for high batting averages as he climbs the ladder of the Reds organization.
While the 17-year-old realizes there is a great deal of work ahead, he's thankful for his experience the Canadian Junior National Team that's helped ready him for this stage of his development.
“[The Arizona League] compares to the past trips with Team Canada," Gordon says, "That really gets us ready for what pro ball is like.
"A typical day on the Junior National team is pretty much exactly how things go on down here"