When the Chattanooga Lookouts were in spring training, manager Carlos Subero and Los Angeles Dodgers farm director DeJon Watson decided top organizational prospect Dee Gordon would begin the season at the bottom of the order and eventually work his way up.
Eventually wound up being five days.
Gordon played his sixth straight game as leadoff batter Monday night at AT&T Field, collecting a sixth-inning single to left that drove in Scott Van Slyke as the Lookouts defeated the Montgomery Biscuits 7-5. The 21-year-old shortstop from Windemere, Fla., hit in the eight hole during the opening homestand but was switched last Wednesday when the Lookouts visited the Tennessee Smokies.
"I'm just going to go out there and try to get on base for them every night," Gordon said. "I'm just enjoying the whole experience right now. I know we're not winning a lot of games, but I'm enjoying our teammates and the progress we're making as a team."
The Lookouts improved to 4-7 and continue to improve at the plate, having scored 29 runs the past four games after tallying 20 in their first seven. Gordon was hitless through three games but now has a .341 average with four doubles and three stolen bases.
Watson attended the first homestand before altering Gordon's game plan.
"He's always been a leadoff hitter," Subero said. "He's in his comfort zone. When you're used to leadoff and are batting eighth, it can affect you mentally. Plus, we're playing a lot of National League games, and when you put him in the eight-hole, then there's the pitcher. If he's caught stealing with two outs, now you've got to bat the pitcher leadoff.
"There were some limitations that you didn't want as far as cutting into that developmental process. If you get thrown out batting leadoff, who cares? You've got your two-hole hitter."
Chattanooga scored four runs in the second inning Monday, jumping on Biscuits starting pitcher Alex Torres with an Andrew Lambo double to right, an Eddy Perez RBI double to left and a Van Slyke RBI single to left. Jessie Mier collected the third double of the inning for the Lookouts, who also benefited from a throwing error and a wild pitch.
The Lookouts padded their advantage to 6-0 in the third, starting strong again with consecutive singles by Trayvon Robinson, Lambo and Perez.
Lookouts starter Chris Withrow, the No. 2 organizational prospect, took a scoreless game into the fifth before allowing a single to Chris De La Cruz, walking Cody Strait and giving up a three-run homer to Ryan Royster. The 21-year-old right-hander allowed three runs on three hits in six innings, bouncing back from last Wednesday's outing against the Smokies in which he allowed six runs in less than three innings.
"It's all a learning process, but I thought he came back strong tonight," Lookouts pitching coach Danny Darwin said.
The Biscuits pulled within 7-5 in the eighth on a two-run single to left by Matt Fields. Chattanooga entered Monday ranked last in the Southern League in ERA with a 6.10.
Alberto Bastardo (1-1, 3.60) is scheduled to start tonight's 7:15 game for the Lookouts, with Aneury Rodriguez (1-0, 2.70) scheduled for the Biscuits.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...