Why the St. Louis Cardinals should temper expectations on Nolan Gorman
By Matt Graves
The St. Louis Cardinals have set expectations extremely high for Nolan Gorman and when he will arrive. Expectations may be too high.
While St. Louis Cardinals fans haven’t had much action this winter in the way of additions to the team, there has been a semi-regular feed of interviews and commentary from the brass of the team.
On Friday, Cardinal manager Mike Shildt met with the media via zoom where he talked about a lot of things, but what stood out was what he said about two of the Cardinals’ top prospects.
We all know Dylan Carlson after his debut last season, but Shildt said that both Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore could be right behind him.
I will first say that Mike Shildt is much more plugged into the team than I am and likely knows more than I do. However, half of this statement sounds ridiculously wrong. Specifically the part about Nolan Gorman.
From Brian Walton’s article, Shildt said this of Gorman’s 2020, “Nolan Gorman impressed people by the way he was going about it, improving defensively, taking at bats.” While it is great that Gorman showed growth at the satellite camp, we are still talking about a player who hasn’t played a game above High-A Palm Beach. While he was at Palm Beach, there were also signs that Gorman was far from ready.
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Over 67 games at Palm Beach, Gorman had a slash line of .241/.344/.448 which isn’t horrible in a league known for suppressing offense. However, his strikeout rate was just a hair under 32% and his walk rate was just 5.7%, the lowest of his career to this point.
The majority of the reports from national writers say that Gorman’s ETA is 2022 and at just 20 years old, there is no reason to push him.
Matthew Liberatore is a slightly different story. While he also hasn’t thrown an inning above Low-A, reports have long suggested he could debut in 2021. Liberatore makes sense to be a part of the team in 2021, but pushing Gorman if he doesn’t earn it makes no sense.
It almost feels like someone should’ve told Shildt to not say what he did. He is a great cheerleader for the team, but I would file this comment in the same file as his “We have five aces” comment from before last season.
I would love to be proved wrong about all of this, but I would bet that no matter how helpful the satellite camp was for players, it was not the same as playing an actual season against other teams.
I am not saying that there is no chance that Gorman comes out of the gates this year and somehow finds his way to St. Louis this year, I am just saying it is irresponsible to come out and say that they expect him to be there.
These comments from Shildt surprised a lot of people, not just myself. The worst thing that could happen is for expectations to get too high and for that to hurt Gorman mentally. From everything I have seen, Gorman needs more time. He’s just 20, be patient.