Springfield Cardinals: The Nolan Gorman era begins

Nolan Gorman made a diving play at third base to rob a potential run in the first inning.
Nolan Gorman made a diving play at third base to rob a potential run in the first inning.(Photo courtesy: Springfield Cardinals)
Published: May. 4, 2021 at 10:11 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Nolan Gorman had to wait a little longer than most prospects to get back into game action after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 Minor League Baseball season.

“Late August in 2019 was my last real game,” recalled Gorman, who was playing for Low-A affiliate Palm Beach Cardinals at the time. “At the end of August, our season got cut short by a series or two because of a hurricane down in Florida... It’s definitely a long time, something that us minor leaguers aren’t used to at all.”

Gorman, regarded as one the top prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system, took spotlight in the Springfield Cardinals home opener Tuesday.

It was his first game in exactly 614 days, but he wasted no time making an impact.

Four batters into the game, Gorman robbed a hit with a diving play near the third base line. The play prevented what could have been the game-opening run for Wichita Wind Surge, leading to a force out at third base.

In the next half inning, Gorman worked an eight-pitch at-bat against Wichita starting pitcher Josh Winder. The at-bat ended with a ground out to shortstop, though Gorman hustled and nearly beat the throw for an infield single.

Gorman didn’t have quite as much luck the rest of the night, finishing 0-for-4 in the Springfield Cardinals’ 2-0 loss on Opening Night. Getting back to minor league baseball action after last year’s layoff was quite the experience itself.

“Hard to sleep last night knowing we had a game today,” said Gorman during a Zoom session Tuesday. “Super excited to get back on the field. We’re going to go out there with a lot of passion with every pitch.”

Gorman enters the new season as the St. Louis Cardinals No. 2 ranked prospect, per’s rankings. There’s plenty of hype around the 2018 first-round pick, but he doesn’t try to think much about it.

“I don’t take that lightly, but I don’t put pressure on myself,” said Gorman. “I don’t feel like I need to go out more and do anything more than what I’m doing... It’s just going out there and competing, pitch by pitch. Whenever you do that, everything will fall in line like it should.”

While Gorman’s bat stands out to baseball scouts, and rightfully so with 32 home runs and 106 RBI in his previous two minor league years, his defense will also take priority in 2021. Gorman made his Springfield debut at third base and plans to play their for the first few weeks of the season.

But manager Jose Leger says that could change later into the season.

“He’s going to start at third [base], probably for the first month, but then we’re going to move him around and see how he can handle second [base],” said Leger during a Zoom session Tuesday. “We’re going to work him out there during practice. He’s going to take ground balls. Then it’s going to be a decision I make along with the front office.”

Gorman has had some extra practice at second base since reporting early to spring training in February. It first started after the St. Louis Cardinals landed eight-time Gold Glove winner Nolan Arenado in an offseason blockbuster.

“I got down to Florida early to work with [Cardinals infield coach José] Oquendo. Honestly, that was the best thing I could’ve done for what I’m trying to do,” said Gorman. “There are obviously some things I had to learn as far as positioning, bunt plays and being in the right spot at the right time. We hammered that a lot, and I feel pretty comfortable over there now.”

Gorman also spent some time working with Arenado in Florida, learning more about his approach on defense and offense. The two even had a chance to bond over golf this spring.

“He’s a very energetic guy, plays the game with a lot of passion,” said Gorman. “From a player of that caliber, it’s great for a guy like me who’s young and wanting to be in that position someday.”

Leger says the goal is to have Gorman play third base early on so he can focus on stringing together quality at-bats. But he is impressed with Gorman’s defensive abilities.

“He’s made so much progress,” said Leger. “If he stays athletic and is able to make to routine plays and turn double plays... Once you have that, he’s definitely got the hands and feet to do it, it’s just a matter of being consistent.”

The 2021 season will be critical for Gorman’s development as a hitter and fielder. He expects his Springfield teammates to be quite competitive around him.

“It’s going to be something special,” said Gorman. “We’re a really good offensive team with really good pitchers. As a unit, it’s going to be a good team and really exciting to watch.”

WATCH: Nolan Gorman discusses 2021 Springfield Cardinals season, recent work on defense and friendship with Nolan Arenado:

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