photo: Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore (St. Louis Cardinals)
The St. Louis Cardinals are bringing up their top two prospects at Triple-A with Nolan Gorman to start at second base on Friday and Matthew Liberatore to take the mound on Saturday. Tyler O’Neill moves to the injured list.
St. Louis Cardinals press release
The St. Louis Cardinals announced following today’s game (Thursday, May 19) that they have selected the contract of rookie infielder Nolan Gorman from Memphis (AAA) and placed outfielder Tyler O’Neill (right shoulder impingement) on the 10-day Injured List. The team has transferred right-handed pitcher Jack Flaherty (right shoulder) from the 10-day Injured List to the 60-day Injured List to make room for Gorman on the team’s 40-player Major League roster.
The Cardinals also announced that rookie left-handed pitcher Matthew Liberatore will join the team and make his Major League debut in a start on Saturday (May 21) against the Pirates.
Gorman, 22, and Liberatore, 22, rated as the #2 and #3 Cardinals prospects by Baseball America will become the sixth and seventh rookies to join the Cardinals this season.
The left-handed hitting Gorman, the Cardinals 1st round (19th payer overall) draft selection in 2018 has provided plenty of power this season, leading all Triple-A players with his 15 home runs, 2nd in all of professional baseball to the Springfield Cardinals (AA) Moises Gomez (17).
Gorman is batting .308 this season in 34 games for the Redbirds, collecting 19 extra base hits and 23 RBI for a 1.044 OPS.
Liberatore is leading Memphis with a 3.83 ERA and ranks third among Triple-A pitchers in both innings pitched (40.0) and strikeouts (46). He compiled a career-best 16.2 scoreless innings streak last month.
Liberatore will be the first Cardinals pitcher to debut in a start against the Pirates since Alan Benes in 1995 and the first lefty to do so since Ray Sadecki in 1960. Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean is another notable to have debuted against the Pirates, tossing a three-hit complete game in 1930 for the Cardinals.
Brian Walton’s take
I have often wondered which of the two childhood friends would reach St. Louis first. Now, we have the answer. Gorman, The Cardinal Nation’s no. 1 prospect, will win by one day over our no. 3.
It is interesting that reasons were cited why Gorman wasn’t promoted, even as he was raking in Triple-A and the Cardinals offense wasn’t cutting it. These concerns were overriding – until St. Louis lost eight of 12 games, that is.
With the current version of the Cardinals clearly a notch below the top teams in the National League, promoting their two best prospects closest to St. Louis is logical and welcome – and in the case of Gorman, overdue, in my opinion.
Any decline in team defense by Gorman playing second base and moving Tommy Edman to shortstop will need to be compared to the improvement in offense over that of former starting shortstop Paul DeJong that Gorman will provide – once the latter gets his feet firmly on the ground as a major leaguer. The impact may not be immediate, but it is time to move ahead.
Now in his second year of playing second base, Gorman has far more experience at the position than did Matt Carpenter and Skip Schumaker when they were moved to second to start for St. Louis while already major leaguers.
The other major reason cited for Gorman remaining in the minors after lesser middle infield prospects Kramer Robertson and Brendan Donovan were promoted ahead of him is his strikeouts.
It is true that the second baseman has struck out at an increased rate in 2022, but in a much longer 2021 debut at the same Triple-A level, Gorman fanned at a below-20% rate. In fact, his strikeout rate has come down in recent days. So, while he is capable of doing it for Memphis, it is time to see what he can do as a big leaguer.
When Liberatore is officially promoted, the Cardinals will have to make another 40-man roster move. His opportunity to continue to start will depend on his effectiveness in his initial appearances as a Cardinal.
Liberatore last started for the Redbirds on Thursday, May 12, so should be rested for his Saturday MLB debut. He had been scheduled to start for Memphis on Wednesday, May 18, but was replaced by Jake Woodford, recently sent down from St. Louis.
Following O’Neill’s recovery could be a minor league rehab stint for him to try to get his swing back in game action. In the meantime, another Cardinals rookie, Juan Yepez, seems best positioned to fill in for the ailing starting left fielder.
To see all players in the system by level and position plus every transaction all year ‘round, check out the always-free Roster Matrix here at The Cardinal Nation.
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