Nolan Gorman, 3B, STL

What do you look for in a power-hitting corner infielder?

Video courtesy of St. Louis Cardinals
  • Born: May 10, 2000
  • B/T: L/R
  • 6’1″, 210-lbs
  • Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1st round of the 2018 MLB June Amateur draft from Sandra Day O’Connor HS (Phoenix, AZ)

The Numbers

His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:

Two things immediately stand out for Gorman:

  • He has amazing power
  • Boy does he strike out a lot

What I am about to say must be taken in the context that we are looking at Gorman’s 18- and 19-year-old seasons. He was drafted out of high school and is now facing full-season ball for the first time in 2019.

That said, his numbers got worse in 2019. Even the power:

Breaking out 2019 by level above, we can really see the regression, other than the walk rate. Even the power, at Class A Advanced, was merely average. He faced higher level pitching and they got those secondary pitches working on him. A .304 OBP is not great.

We see the same here. His OBP in A ball was great, but then Class Advanced righties destroyed him, though he hit lefties well.

For as much power as Gorman has, and he does, we see a lot of pull tendency so far. Again, we are talking about a teenager, so we aren’t worried yet. We see opposite field home runs there too, and expect a lot more to follow as he matures. Still, at 6’1″ and 210 pounds already, unless he gains more height, there probably isn’t much more physical maturity to come. Now it will be up to the Cardinals to refine his approach to get the rest of his power to show up in game settings.

He got off to a great start in 2018, got promoted to A level, tired out.

In 2019 he did well in A ball, began to tire in June, got promoted to A+ anyway, really tailed off at first, but then ground out a better summer than we first thought. Let’s take just his July-September numbers in A+:

In 198 PA from July 1 to August 29, he hit .269/.313/.441 for a .172 ISO. So his raw power was the same, but his on-base improved by a decent amount. He tried.

The Scouts

Warnings

The scouts love him, but I’m allergic to corner infielders who strike out a lot. To me the biggest warning flag is how much worse will that 32% strikeout rate get when he reaches AA and above?

Will the power return in game settings? He has 40 HR potential if he taps into it all, but can he do that?

Conclusion

His defense is solid at 3B, but not great. The Cardinals are going to try to keep him there and hope the power keeps producing. A low BA should be expected from those strikeouts, despite his nice walk rate.

He’s a top prospect, but only for that power. Without it he doesn’t have much else of value. So let’s see him master AA before we anoint him the next 40-HR threat in the majors. He has that potential, but he must reach it first.

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