Offseason Prospect Review: Tanner Gordon

Monday, November, 15, 2021

-Clint Manry

The offseason is here and it’s a perfect time to recap the 2021 season of each of the Braves top 30 prospects. In this series, I’ll discuss each player’s performance from this past year, as well as what’s needed for them to continue to rise in the organization. All rankings are derived from my most-recent 2021 Braves Top 30 Prospect List, which came out this past August. Following this series, a fresh top 30 will be constructed, primarily based on the notes I’ll provide in this column.

Previous reviews

  • Jefrey Ramos, OF (link)
  • Brandol Mezquita, OF (link)
  • Cody Milligan, 2B (link)
  • Drew Lugbauer, 1B/DH (link)

#26. Tanner Gordon, RHP

24-years-old

2021 stats (A / A+):  108.1 IP, 3.90 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 1.1 HR/9

Trend:  Up

The future looks extremely bright for Gordon, who, after struggling a bit at first in High-A Rome to begin 2021, wound up putting together an excellent campaign in his first taste of A-ball. After posting a 5.32 ERA in 22 innings with the R-Braves to begin the season, the righty was sent down to Single-A Augusta, and from there he flourished, averaging over 10 strikeouts per nine and posting a 3.43 ERA in 11 starts. By mid-August, Gordon was back in Rome and featured in my midseason Top 30.

At 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, this is a kid that could have a very bright future once he puts it all together on the mound. The Indiana University product was a sixth-round pick by the Braves back in 2019, and with a mid-90s MPH fastball, to go with an above average breaking ball, Gordon could very well evolve into yet another top-tier arm in the system. At this point, with him just now breaking into full-season ball, the next season or two will be huge for his stock as a prospect.

2022 outlook

In 2021, Gordon really struggled when he had traffic on the base paths, posting dramatically worse numbers with runners on, compared to bases empty.

  • Bases empty:  288 PA, .211 AVG, .603 OPS
  • Runners on:  155 PA, .307 AVG, .844 OPS

A little bit of disparity between the two isn’t bad, but a whopping 239 points in OPS is a rather stark difference when it comes to performing with runners on. Gordon will definitely need to clean that up as he progresses within the Braves minor league system.

Speaking of progressing through the system: given Gordon needed a stint in Single-A to get settled in this past year, it would probably be more beneficial for him to spend at least a half-season in High-A again. The Braves still have quite a bit of depth when it comes to prospect starters, and there’s no need to rush anyone. However, with Gordon now entering his age-24 campaign, reaching Double-A in 2022 seems pretty dire. If starting is still in the cards, a continuation of what he provided last season will go a long way.

Either way, though, so far Gordon is progressing nicely. In 21 career minor league starts, to go with 14 relief appearances (or 132.2 total innings), the right-hander sports a 3.60 ERA, while also maintaining solid K/BB rates (9.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9). It will certainly be interesting to see what his stock looks like this time next year, because another strong campaign as a starter (with perhaps some strong showings at the Double-A level), could push Gordon in the top-15 range.

William Contreras leads Gwinnett to extra-inning win; Kyle Muller and Tanner Gordon toss quality-starts

Thursday, August 26, 2021

-Clint Manry

Thanks to losses by both the Phillies and Mets last night, Atlanta’s NL East lead increases to five, even while they remain idle. The Braves will need its rest anyways, though, because Friday begins a three-game weekend series with the best team in baseball, the Giants.

As the Braves take their two days of rest, the farm continues on. With the M-Braves game postponed and the FCL team also off, Gwinnett headlined yesterday’s minor league slate.

Here’s a recap of Wednesday’s action down on the farm…

(57-41) GWINNETT STRIPERS

W, 5-4 (F/10) vs. Nashville

SP, K. Muller – 6 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 K

CF, C. Pache – 3 for 4, 2B, 2 RBI, SB

C, W. Contreras – 2 for 4, RBI, R, BB

LF, T. Demeritte – 2 for 5

Lefty Kyle Muller continues to impress in his bid to return to the big league rotation. The 23-year-old started Wednesday’s matchup versus the Sounds and once again kept the damage to a minimum. After allowing a single in the opening frame, Muller held Nashville hitless all the way until the sixth, giving up a harmless base-hit before finishing up his outing. Overall, the big southpaw totaled 90 pitches and induced seven groundouts to go with two flyouts. Last night’s gem now gives Muller 12-straight scoreless innings with the Stripers as his two starts there has featured just three hits allowed and eight strikeouts. With Huascar Ynoa back for Atlanta, and Ian Anderson nearing a return as well, Muller may be on the outside looking in as far as the rotation goes. However, he could become a real weapon out of the bullpen next month. Regardless, the kid is throwing the ball well.

The Stripers ended up winning last night’s extra-inning battle due to a go-ahead RBI single by catcher William Contreras. However, the highlight of the game perhaps goes to outfielder Cristian Pache, who made THIS play in the sixth…

As you can see above, Pache also finished with three hits last night, pushing his season AVG in Gwinnett up to a respectable .261. The Braves top prospect has picked a nice time to get hot at the plate as Pache is currently hitting .333 with nine XBH in 17 games this month. Look for the 22-year-old to be added to Atlanta’s roster in September.

(58-39) MISSISSIPPI BRAVES

PPD vs. Pensacola

(43-54) ROME BRAVES

L, 8-6 (F/10) vs. Bowling Green

SP, T. Gordon – 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 8 K, 2 HR

3B, R. Delgado – 2 for 5, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI

DH, J. Franklin – 1 for 5, HR, RBI

2B, L. Waddell – 2 for 3, R

RF, S. Michel – 1 for 4, 3B, 2 RBI, R

LF, D. Campbell – 1 for 4, 2B, R

Bowling Green walked it off in the tenth against Rome last night with a two-run homer by Evan Edwards, however, R-Braves starter Tanner Gordon put together another impressive outing on the mound. Also, this year’s fifth-round pick, shortstop Luke Waddell, stays hot with the bat adding two hits for Rome. Waddell is 4 for 7 over his last two games, including a pair of home runs. He’ll enter Thursday hitting .245 with a .715 OPS so far this season.

(41-57) AUGUSTA GREENJACKETS

L, 9-1 vs. Charleston

SP, R. Cusick – (L), 3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, BB, 4 K

RP, G. Rodriguez – 1.2 IP, BB, 4 K

1B, C. Bunnell – 1 for 4, HR, RBI

C, A. Zebrowski – 1 for 3

RF, C. Robinson – 1 for 3

The Braves top pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, righty Ryan Cusick, made his third pro start last night for Augusta, laboring through a 55-pitch outing. Cusick has been on a pretty short leash pitch-count wise, but so far his results have been strong. Counting Wednesday’s start, the 21-year-old sports a 1.17 ERA in 7.2 innings thus far, including a whopping 15 strikeouts (17.6 K/9) and three walks. Another 2021 draftee that has enjoyed his first taste of pro ball, catcher Adam Zebrowski added another hit last night, pushing his AVG for the season up to .333 (.833 OPS). Zebrowski has only played in seven games for Augusta thus far, but he’s managed to record a hit in all but two of them. For a 13th-round pick out of a small college, the 20-year-old is looking more and more like a steal of a pick for the Braves.

Bryce Elder and Tanner Gordon win MiLB Pitcher of the Week

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

-Clint Manry

Over the last two days the Braves have added 10 brand new young players to its organization, with rounds 1-10 of the 2021 MLB Draft completed so far. But during this entire draft process, don’t forget… this Atlanta minor league system is already a pretty talented group. And that was confirmed on Monday when, for the second week in a row (pitcher Bryse Wilson and outfielder Jesse Franklin V won the awards last week), the system featured two players among MiLB.com’s Player/Pitcher of the Week award, as both Mississippi’s Bryce Elder and Augusta’s Tanner Gordon took home Pitcher of the Week for last week’s games.

For the Double-A South league, the 22-year-old Elder was an evident favorite after he and M-Braves reliever Daysbel Hernández teamed up to complete a combined no-hitter just this past Sunday versus Pensacola — the first no-hitter for Mississippi in two years, since both Ian Anderson and Jeremy Walker pulled it off in 2019. In that seven-inning start for Elder, the righty walked four and struck out six, while needing just 89 pitches to complete the outing. Per Game Score (79), it was the best start of Elder’s 2021 season, despite being only his third time pitching at the Double-A level. Lately the former University of Texas star and fifth-round pick has become much more comfortable pitching for the M-Braves. After struggling in his debut, Elder has allowed just one run in his last 12 innings with Mississippi, including 11 strikeouts. And overall, he’ll enter his next start with a 2.66 ERA in 61 total innings between both Rome and the M-Braves in 2021. If we weren’t already sure then… we certainly are now — Elder is sure to be a big time prospect in the Braves system. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how far he goes this year.

Gordon takes home Pitcher of the Week honors for the Single-A East League, where the 23-year-old righty has dominated with Augusta. The former sixth-round pick had a two-start week last week, starting for the GreenJackets on both Tuesday and this past Sunday, allowing just one run combined and striking out 11 in 13 innings.

Tue, July 6 – 7 IP, 3 H, ER, 6 K

Sun, July 11 – 6 IP, H, BB, 5 K

Total – 13 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, 11 K

Last week Gordon pitched to a 0.69 ERA and held opposing batters to just a .237 OPS, as it’s pretty evident he’s ready for another shot in High-A. The Indiana University alum began his 2021 campaign with an assignment in Rome, and he pitched well during his first few outings. However, in 22 total innings with the R-Braves from May to early June, Gordon allowed a 5.32 ERA, so the Braves sent him down to the GreenJackets. Since pitching for Augusta, Gordon has been one of the best starting pitchers among the entire Single-A level, currently sporting a 1.95 ERA in 32.1 innings so far. He doesn’t qualify for any leaderboards, given he hasn’t accrued enough innings with the GreenJackets, but Gordon has posted an ERA even better than teammate and prospect Joey Estes. And this kid’s success really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Gordon has been an above-average minor league starter essentially his entire pro career. In 78.1 career innings, the righty has a 3.10 ERA with 10 strikeouts per nine and just three walks per nine. This could be Gordon’s year to make some noise, and get back some of the attention he had when he was drafted two years ago.

Both Elder and Gordon are incredibly talented pitchers. Congrats to them both!