Royals draft Nebraska third baseman

Updated: June 8, 2005, 8:30 AM ET
Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The good news came to Alex Gordon via sign language.

While still on the field during practice at Nebraska on Tuesday afternoon, he spotted his brother, who had a big smile and was holding up two fingers.

That meant Alex had been drafted No. 2 overall and he was the property of the same Kansas City team his family of baseball fans had always followed.

"Right there and then I knew it was the Royals," said the smooth-swinging third baseman, a two-time Big 12 player of the year and finalist for the Golden Spike Award.

"I'm definitely excited and definitely looking forward to playing for them."

The Royals claimed Gordon with their highest pick ever, just a moment after Arizona made high school shortstop Justin Upton the overall No. 1 selection.

"He's the guy we wanted," said Deric Ladnier, the Royals' director of scouting. "He's the guy we've seen. I probably saw him play 10 times this year, along with all the special assistant cross-checkers, and had a real good feel for him the entire year."

Undrafted out of high school, Gordon is hitting .382 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIss for the Huskers. He also has 58 walks and has stolen 23 bases in 26 attempts. Like Royals Hall-of-Famer George Brett, Gordon bats left and throws right and supplies both power and a high average.

"We feel like he's an impact bat for us," Ladnier said. "He's good at third base. Very athletic, tremendous leadership ability and a player we feel like can be a piece of the puzzle that we're putting together with regard to the young players we have coming up."

How soon the Royals sign the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder is still to be determined. He said he just wants to get started as soon as he can. But negotiations could be lengthy.

A contract and bonus package could be in the $4 million to $5 million range.

When asked if he expected a quick signing, Ladnier said, "I would not anticipate that."

"I think if history repeats itself, the negotiation process will take some time, which it tends to when you're selecting that high in the draft. But as to a timetable when we might get something done, it depends on how the negotiation process goes. At this point in time, I don't know what the requests are going to be."

Gordon and his three baseball-playing brothers grew up in Lincoln, Neb. His father, Mike, played college baseball and never tired of getting onto the field with his boys.

"He'd always throw to us four whenever we'd ask him," Gordon said. "Sometimes he'd drag us out there to go hit. He'd get done with work and we'd go out to the baseball field to hit live. He'd throw about 300 pitches and then go back home and ice his arm. He was definitely a big influence, and I love him for it."

In the second round, with the 50th pick, the Royals went for high school infielder Jeff Bianchi of Lancaster, Pa, who hit .575 with 13 home runs and 37 RBIss. The 5-11, 180-pounder also has signed a letter of intent with North Carolina State.

Chris Nicoll, a right-handed pitcher from California-Irvine with a 6-2 record and a 2.34 ERA, was taken in the third round. In the fourth, the Royals took Joseph Dickerson, a high school outfielder

With rookie Mark Teahen settling in at third base for the major league club this year, Gordon could give the Royals a surplus at that position -- especially if he makes the majors within two years as the team hopes.

"When you're picking two in the draft, you're not selecting based on need," Ladnier said. "It's simply who do we feel like has the best ability at No. 2.

"All I know is we've got a guy we think is going to be a middle-of-the-order type bat. Those things will take care of themselves as he progresses through our system. We didn't draft on need. We drafted on who we felt like was the best player."

Gordon's next action will come on Friday when Nebraska plays Miami in the Super Regional of the NCAA tournament.

"I'm focusing on our season, finishing out the right way and after that focusing on the Royals," he said. "I just want to play, to be honest. I just want to hit. If they feel they need to move me, it's certainly up to them."

If he ever plays for the Royals, Gordon's family will have no problem finding their way to Kauffman Stadium to see him.

Many times while his family was growing up, Mike Gordon would pack everyone into the family car and make the three-hour drive from Lincoln to see the Royals and Brett.

"We didn't have any teams around Nebraska, so me and my family would have to travel quite a ways to go watch a major league team, and Kansas City was the team," Alex Gordon said.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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