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Gordon eager to prove he belongs with Twins

May looking forward to full-time role in bullpen for 2019
MLB.com @dohyoungpark

Nick Gordon's talent has never been in question. The infielder, who is ranked as the Twins' No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline, learned through his struggles last season, following a promotion to Triple-A Rochester, that talent alone isn't enough to succeed at the highest levels of baseball.

"When you get to Triple-A, it's more of who's the smartest on the field," Gordon said during an interview at the MLB Rookie Career Development Program. "It was tough learning that because you hear so much about, 'Talent isn't going to get you to the next level.' Triple-A is where I really saw that."

Nick Gordon's talent has never been in question. The infielder, who is ranked as the Twins' No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline, learned through his struggles last season, following a promotion to Triple-A Rochester, that talent alone isn't enough to succeed at the highest levels of baseball.

"When you get to Triple-A, it's more of who's the smartest on the field," Gordon said during an interview at the MLB Rookie Career Development Program. "It was tough learning that because you hear so much about, 'Talent isn't going to get you to the next level.' Triple-A is where I really saw that."

Gordon posted the best numbers of his career to begin the 2018 campaign with Double-A Chattanooga, hitting .333/.381/.525 with five homers, 10 doubles and three triples through 42 games. Following his promotion to Triple-A on May 22, he hit .212/.262/.283 through 99 games, with his numbers dwindling throughout the season despite a strong start with Rochester in late May.

The 23-year-old said he learned to spend more time studying the games and breaking them down, as opposed to just relying on his natural ability to carry him through the season.

"I definitely feel like even with the struggles that I had, I learned a lot in Triple-A and it humbled me down to, 'It's about every game, it's about every pitch, it's about every play,'" Gordon said.

Gordon, the Twins' first-round pick and the fifth overall selection in the 2014 MLB Draft, is on the 40-man roster, and he could see his first MLB action as soon as this season. Though Ehire Adrianza will likely serve as the primary utility infielder, a strong start by Gordon in 2019 could mean that he may compete with Ronald Torreyes for eventual Major League playing time behind Adrianza and middle-infield starters Jorge Polanco and Jonathan Schoop.

"Ever since the season ended, there's been that hunger and that drive," Gordon said. "It feels like I have something to prove.

"I know that made me better. It's good to go through times like that. It's good to be doubted a little bit. Learning and going through the struggles and the trials like that, you really test yourself and test your character."

Video: Twins pitcher Trevor May set to deliver in 2019

May eager for bullpen role

The Twins are committed to using Trevor May as a full-time reliever in 2019 after his two months of success in the 'pen last season following his recovery from Tommy John surgery. May, who was a starter throughout his Minor League career, said in an interview with MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM that 12 seasons into his professional career and at age 29, it was time for him to commit to a role.

"I know I've had success and I really enjoy it," May said. "At the end of the day, it's a lot of fun as well. I've been a part of that bullpen for several years now, and those guys are my family. We're going to get a little bit of that chemistry going as well, because the bullpen has a little bit of a unique job to do, and you've got to commit to it."

May was 4-1 with a 3.20 ERA following his July 31 return to the Majors in 2018, working exclusively out of the bullpen, including a one-inning "start" as the Twins' "opener" in a September game against the Astros. He posted career-bests in ERA, strikeout rate, walk rate, FIP and WHIP last season alongside a career-best 138 ERA+. He also added three saves at the end of the season.

Video: CWS@MIN: May retires Garcia to end the game

He was 7-15 with a 5.85 ERA and an 8.1 K/9 strikeout rate in 26 starts at the Major League level since his debut in 2014, while he has a 3.75 ERA with a 12.1 K/9 rate in 100 career relief appearances.

"I'm well suited to throw in a leverage situation, and I think that my stuff plays pretty well in that situation, with strikeouts and things of that nature," May said. "It's kind of where the game has gone, and the way that we're valuing relievers."

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.

Minnesota Twins, Nick Gordon, Trevor May