Friends since 5 years old get call to Majors together

May 19th, 2022

NEW YORK -- The future is about to become the present for the Cardinals, who are promoting top prospects and for their weekend series in Pittsburgh.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol made the announcement following the Cardinals' 7-6 loss to the Mets on Thursday. Gorman will join the team on Friday and is expected to start at second base in the team’s series opener against the Pirates. That game will stream exclusively and for free on Apple TV+.

Liberatore is then slated to start on Saturday. The Cardinals are using him to fill the rotation vacancy that arose after playing a doubleheader earlier in the week.

In corresponding moves, the club placed outfielder Tyler O’Neill (right shoulder impingement) on the injured list and transferred Jack Flaherty to the 60-day IL.

Gorman, the club’s No. 2 prospect and the No. 29 prospect overall according to MLB Pipeline, instantly adds a left-handed-hitting power presence to the lineup.

“We’ll use Gorman at second base. He will be in the lineup. He is here to play,” Marmol said. “He is going to get here and show what he is able to do. He has been working hard at minimizing strikeouts. It’s something he is aware of. He is going at it pretty good. He is making a lot of contact and driving the baseball. We have a need, so he is coming to fill it.”

Drafted out of high school by the Cardinals with the No. 19 overall pick in 2018, Gorman hit .308 with 15 home runs and a 1.044 OPS through 34 games with Triple-A Memphis this season. That follows a '21 season in which he slashed .279/.333/.481 with 25 homers between Double-A and Triple-A.

“He is a power-hitter, exciting player,” Juan Yepez said. “He can hit the ball hard to all parts of the field. It will be good to have him here.”

Gorman’s fit in St. Louis, though, wasn’t going to be dictated only by his bat. He also needed to find a spot in the field. To do that, Gorman, 22, began making the transition from third base to second base last season, following the club’s acquisition of third baseman Nolan Arenado.

Liberatore, who was drafted by Tampa Bay three picks before Gorman, came to St. Louis as part of the 2020 trade that sent Randy Arozarena to the Rays. The 6-foot-4 southpaw, who checks in as the club's No. 3 prospect, has posted a 3.99 ERA with 169 strikeouts in 164 2/3 innings at Triple-A since the start of the '21 season. He has walked fewer than three batters per nine innings each season thanks to his advanced pitchability. MLB Pipeline assigned an above-average grade to each of Liberatore’s four pitches: fastball, slider, curveball and changeup.

“Giving him the chance to come up here is something I’m looking forward to,” Marmol said of the 22-year-old. "He is coming and throwing Saturday. We’ll get a good look at him, and see where we want to go from there.”

That the two prospects will be arriving to the Majors together is serendipitous, but fitting. They have been friends since age 5, when they met while playing on the same neighborhood coach-pitch team. They were then teammates on travel ball teams and with elite programs like Team USA, before becoming roommates in the Minor Leagues.

And now, their parallel journeys take them to Pittsburgh, together.