Cards' top prospect trio fills out ST roster

Carlson, Gorman, Liberatore to go to camp as non-roster invitees

January 31st, 2020

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals’ facility in Jupiter, Fla., will have a crowded clubhouse when Spring Training kicks off in a few weeks. Seventy-two players are on the Spring Training roster that the club announced Friday, including 32 non-roster invites.

That group is headlined by the club’s top three prospects: Outfielder Dylan Carlson, infielder Nolan Gorman and left-hander Matthew Liberatore. St. Louis’ roster is larger than it has been in recent years because the Cardinals are not holding their Spring Training Early Program (STEP) this year.

In the past, about a week or two after big league camp began, the Cardinals held STEP camp as a small, invitation-only start to Spring Training for top prospects or Minor League players on the verge of contributing to the Majors or higher levels. The program included classes about media relations, leadership building and more, along with baseball activity. The way the schedule is set up this year, with four days between the Cardinals’ first full-squad workout (Feb. 17) and first split-squad game (Feb. 22), St. Louis was going to have to bring STEP campers in at the same time as the big league players.

“So instead of doing both, we’re just going to have one camp, big league camp, and expand the number of guys there,” general manager Mike Girsch said Jan. 19 at Winter Warm-Up. “For some of those guys, it will be an even better experience because it’ll be big league camp, and for a group of them, they won’t have the experience because the timing doesn’t work out. We’ll probably tend to take the guys who are further along in their careers, who are a little more ready to help out in the big leagues.”

Carlson is the Cardinals’ top prospect and MLB’s 17th-ranked prospect overall per MLB Pipeline. He was selected as the 33rd overall pick by St. Louis in the 2016 Draft, and he has developed into a switch-hitter with plus power from both sides of the plate. Carlson split time between Double-A and Triple-A last year, finishing with a .292/.372/.542 slash line and 26 homers across 489 at-bats. The 21-year-old will be in the mix of young outfielders competing for a spot in the starting lineup and on the 25-man roster.

The 19-year-old Gorman ranks right behind Carlson in the Cardinals’ system and 47th overall. He is a third baseman with big power from the left side, taken by the Cardinals with the 19th overall pick in the 2018 Draft. Gorman hit .248/.326/.439 with 15 homers across the Class A and Class A Advanced levels last year.

Liberatore, 20, was acquired from the Rays earlier this month in a trade that sent Randy Arozarena and José Martínez to Tampa Bay. He’s St. Louis’ third-ranked prospect, and he is listed 58th on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100. Liberatore owns three pitches that scouts feel could eventually become plus Major League offerings, including a mid-90s fastball, swing-and-miss hammer curve and a diving changeup. The southpaw compiled a 3.10 ERA across 16 appearances (15 starts) with Class A Bowling Green in 2019.

The Cardinals’ NRI list also includes first-round Draft pick Zack Thompson, a left-hander out of the University of Kentucky who is ranked sixth on the Cardinals’ top prospect list, and catcher Ivan Herrera, ranked seventh. Thirteen of the Cardinals’ Top 30 prospects were invited to camp.

Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Cardinals camp on Feb. 11.

Here's the full list of non-roster invitees to Cardinals’ Spring Training:

RHP Akeem Bostick
RHP Nabil Crismatt
RHP Jesus Cruz
RHP Bryan Dobzanski
RHP Seth Elledge
RHP Alex FaGalde
LHP Rob Kaminsky
LHP Evan Kruczynski
LHP Matthew Liberatore
RHP Johan Oviedo
RHP Tommy Parsons
RHP Roel Ramirez
RHP Griffin Roberts
RHP Angel Rondon
RHP Ramon Santos
LHP Zack Thompson
RHP Kodi Whitley

Aaron Antonini
José Godoy
Oscar Hernández
Ivan Herrera
Dennis Ortega
Pedro Pages
Julio Rodríguez
Carlos Soto Jr.
Alexis Wilson

Luken Baker
Nolan Gorman
Evan Mendoza
John Nogowski
Max Schrock

Dylan Carlson