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NY Mets minor leaguer Cole Gordon on an unfamiliar path

MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 02: A detailed view of the Rawlings baseball being held by Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins during the game against the New York Mets at loanDepot park on August 02, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 02: A detailed view of the Rawlings baseball being held by Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins during the game against the New York Mets at loanDepot park on August 02, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
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Cole Gordon caught my attention when I saw he had won the Northeast Pitcher of the Month Award for August. In four starts for the New York Mets Double-A affiliate Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Gordon pitched 26 innings without allowing an earned run.

This Orel Hershiser-like stretch has landed him on the radar as one of the next Mets minor league pitchers to keep a close eye on.

Is it possible that this 25-year-old former 32nd round draft pick could make his way to the major leagues? If the unfamiliar path he is taking continues to pay off, it just might.

Mets minor leaguer Cole Gordon is taking an unfamiliar path from reliever to starter

Exactly what is a relief pitcher? The adage has always been that all relievers are failed starters. Not so true anymore. There are plenty of guys built to pitch in relief roles from very early on.

This seemed to be the case for Gordon. While attending Mississippi State, he pitched almost exclusively as a reliever. The results weren’t eye-popping with a collegiate-best ERA of 3.80 in 2019—the year he was drafted.

Gordon resumed pitched in a relief role in the Mets minor league system later that year. He had good results. The 2020 season was a complete wash for everyone’s minor league campaign (and many of our diets) but this year Gordon has had a chance to show this underdog might have a brighter future than originally believed. While this current streak has definitely helped him lower his ERA to 3.69 after 83 innings of work, what intrigues me most is that he’s starting games for the first time in his adult life.

Little things like this amaze me. When I looked back at the career of ex-Mets closer Braden Looper, I was stunned to realize he followed this path, too, but in the big leagues. Looper was a lifelong reliever who only became a starter at the very end of his career.

Gordon is doing it a much more normal phase of his time as a professional pitcher. The minor leagues are a time to experiment. Given the chance to start in Double-A this year has paid off huge. Whatever adjustments he needed to make and whatever changes to his preparation he needed to add are resulting in a promising future with the Mets.

One strong streak—or even a fantastic season on the farm—never does translate to big league success. It was only a few years ago that Corey Oswalt was the Mets Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Since, he has floundered while floating between the majors and Triple-A.

Next. Where the 2021 Mets draft picks rank in the system

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Even if Gordon isn’t destined for stardom, something definitely seems to have clicked for him. A Player of the Month Award is huge regardless of the level or size of your league. It could be the jumping-off point for this young man in his quest to go even further in his career.

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