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Royal Arrival

Looking back, the 2005 draft was packed full of talent, with names like Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Zimmerman. The Red Sox found three members of their current roster in Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz and Jed Lowrie. At the time however, none these players were the cream of the draft crop.

The Kansas City Royals came into the draft in a prime position. They held the rights to the 2nd overall pick. The top two prospects were well known by this point; one a high school phenom collecting Ken Griffey Jr. comparisons, the other a college stud who had swept NCAA player of the year awards. Justin Upton was taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks as the first pick, leaving the Royals with Nebraska Cornhusker 3B Alex Gordon.

Gordon was heaped with well deserved praise over his college career. During his time at Nebraska, Gordon maintained a .353 batting average and a monstrous .657 slugging %. He was named the best college draft prospect and seen as a potential 5-tool superstar. The Royals thought they had found themselves the next George Brett.

alex gordon
Royals hope Gordon's hot start is no fluke

Gordon's first full season came at the AA level in 2006. While playing in 130 games, he hit .325 with 29 homeruns and 101 RBIs. His success at this level as a 22 year old only added to his hype, and led the Royals to start Gordon with the major league club in 2007. Gordon got off to a slow start, batting .185 over the first two months of the season, but the Royals stuck with him. He rebounded to finish the year hitting .247 with 15 homeruns. Gordon improved upon his rookie year with what turned out to be his best season to date statistically, batting .260 with 16 homeruns and an OPS of .783.

The next two seasons were not kind to the Royal's prospect. Gordon only played in 123 games combined in 2009-2010 due to injuries and demotions. It was determined by the Royals that Gordon would no longer man the hot corner after committing double digit errors from his rookie year through 2009. They switched Gordon to left field, allowing him to adjust to his new position in the minors. Gordon was called up to finish the 2010 season in the Royal's outfield after an injury to David DeJesus, but was unable to find consistency at the plate, finishing 2010 batting a meager .215.

After 4 years and at the age of 27, time seemed to be running out for the once highly touted prospect. Gordon entered spring training knowing that he was reaching the end of his rope and that his past success could only take him so far. Hitting coaches adjusted his swing as they had been doing for years, but this time something seemed to click. By the end of the spring, Gordon's numbers resembled those of his college days. Gordon's .347 average and 14 extra base hits had many believing the former prospect may finally be putting things together. While a strong spring does not guarantee a successful regular season, some believed a breakout year could be on the horizon.

Though Gordon is only 22 games and 94 at bats into the 2011 season, he is showing why many saw him as a future star coming out of college. He is leading the American League in hits with 33, leading to a .351 batting average. Gordon has already hit more doubles as than all of last year with 11, and he is approaching last season's RBI mark of 20 after only 22 games. Currently in the top 10 of many hitting categories, Gordon is also showing his talent in the field. Manning left for the Royals, Gordon leads the American League in outfield assists with 5. He's hit safely in 20 of 22 games and currently has a 19 game hitting streak.

While it is still early, Gordon has given the Royals some reason to hope that he has put things together and is finally on his way to reaching his full potential. Some take longer to achieve success, and Gordon was shouldered with all kinds of expectations over his career. The Royals are hoping that Gordon is on his way to meeting those lofty expectations, and becoming the middle of the order bat Kansas City envisioned when they made him the 2nd overall pick in the 05 draft.
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