Gordon shines in start in front of his parents

March 14th, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Maybe the parents of Rockies Minor League right-handed pitcher have some magic.

"They bought a ticket to this game about a month ago and asked, 'Do you think you'll be pitching?'" Gordon said. "I said I doubt it -- maybe as a backup. But they told me last Friday that I would be starting this game.

"I texted my dad and said, 'What game did you buy tickets for again?' He texted back, Diamondbacks on the 13th. Then I called my parents and told them."

Gordon, 26, who joined the Rockies in a trade last summer, struck out two and gave up two hits in two scoreless innings in the 7-5 Rockies victory at Salt River Fields.

Rockies manager Bud Black wanted to get a look at Gordon, a Braves sixth-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft out of the University of Indiana.

On Wednesday, Gordon attacked the zone (29 pitches, 19 strikes) with a fastball. He showed a slider -- which accounted for strikeouts of Ketel Marte in the first inning and Eugenio Suárez in the second -- changeup and developing curveball.

"We liked what we saw -- a good delivery, good fastball and good feel for that hard slider, plus another breaking ball," Black said. "That was encouraging."

Gordon was close to his current height -- 6'4½", but he noted "6'5" in cleats" -- when he graduated from Champaign Central High School. Then he played two seasons at John A. Logan College in Carterville, Ill., before transferring to Indiana, where he became a pro prospect.

In the Braves system, Gordon began at Double-A Mississippi, was promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett and was then sent back down to Mississippi before being traded to the Rockies with righty reliever Victor Vodnik for veteran righty Pierce Johnson. After the trade, Gordon went 2-2 with a 5.96 ERA in four starts at Double-A Hartford and 1-1, with a 4.31 ERA in six starts at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Gordon is part of a buildup of pitching prospects that general manager Bill Schmidt has sought since taking over as GM during the 2021 season.

"The strength of the Braves farm system was it was very competitive as a whole, which sharpened all the guys -- you play well or you get sent home," Gordon said. "It wasn't that cutthroat, but there was competition.

"Obviously, the first few weeks after I got here, I was filling things out and meeting guys. But doing research on my own, I realized there's a lot of talent over here, too, just like the Braves. There's a lot of competition, which I love."


  • Rockies No. 10 prospect Benny Montgomery, the team's top Draft pick in 2021, launched his first home run of his 10-game Cactus League career, an opposite-way shot to right-center off Conor Grammes in the ninth inning. Montgomery is expected to be among the players participating in Saturday's Spring Breakout game against the D-backs.
  • Right-hander Jaden Hill had his first major blip this spring – five runs in one inning pitched. One run came when Joc Pederson swatted a high, 99.4 mph fastball. Black planned on two innings from Hill, but he could not record an out in his second frame.

Hill had up-and-down work inning to inning as a starter last year at High-A Spokane. Black saw Wednesday as a coaching opportunity.

"No matter how you throw, you've got to get it in a good spot -- these are Major League hitters," Black said. "He got too many balls up over the plate and got into some bad counts.

"There are teaching moments in every outing, whether good or poor results."

  • Lefty Carson Palmquist, who started the spring in Major League camp, struck out three in two scoreless innings.

"He hung in there," Black said. "I like his style. He's got a sneaky fastball, good feel for that breaking ball. He's got a change -- long stride, good extension, so there is some deception in there. He doesn't scare off, which I like."

  • While not putting stock solely in the statistics, Black said he is seeing good approaches and swings from Ryan McMahon, who drove an inside pitch from Merrill Kelly to center field for a double, and Brendan Rodgers, whose 2-for-3 day with two RBIs lifted his average to .414.
  • Lefty starter Austin Gomber pitched in a Minor League game against a High-A Athletics team. He went four innings, struck out nine with no walks and yielded three earned runs on five hits.