Nolan Gorman’s first three games of the season were slow at the plate. If his last two are any indication, any sluggish start is a thing of the past.
Baseball’s No. 32 overall prospect hammered his first two homers of the season, giving him four hits in two days, as Triple-A Memphis fell to visiting Gwinnett, 6-3, on Sunday afternoon.
“Guys are a lot better up here," Gorman said of Triple-A. "They’ve got good stuff and can command it. You’ve got to be able to really pick your zone and not go out of your way to chase pitches. It’s really just accepting that they’re going to hit their corners and just waiting for them to make a mistake. When they do, don’t miss it. That’s a big thing that I’ve been focusing on, just shrinking the zone and only hitting pitches that I know I can drive."
Driving was the key to Gorman’s series finale showing. Following a strikeout in his first at-bat, the infielder connected on a solo blast to center field in the bottom of the third. Five innings later, he launched another solo shot to right.
“The first one, [Atlanta’s No. 4 prospect Kyle Muller] was throwing fastball-curveball and then came with a slider that I was able to pick up and stay through the middle on it,” The second one, [Gwinnett reliever R.J. Alaniz] threw a first-pitch slider, came with a heater next pitch away and then threw a couple more sliders. I just fouled them off and a fastball, fouled off until I was able to get a good pitch to hit. It was a slider down and in and, same thing, I was able to stay inside of it and hit it in the gap.”
Gorman started his season 0-9 with five strikeouts through his Redbirds’ first three games of a season-opening six-game set. On Friday, he got back in rhythm with a pair of singles and a run scored. After getting Saturday night off, Gorman’s two-hit Sunday showing put his early season slash line at .235/.278/.588.
“It’s been good getting back in the swing of things and competing against good teams and good players,” the 21-year-old said. “It’s been fun, and us as a team, I think we’ve got a good team out here. It’s been fun learning and developing with these guys.”
Gorman spent 76 games with Triple-A Memphis last year and more than held his own as one of the level’s youngest everyday players. The second-ranked Cardinals prospect batted .274/.320/.465 with 14 Triple-A homers -- which were in addition to the 11 he hit with Double-A Springfield in 43 games to start the year -- and earned a selection to the All-Star Futures Game. After the campaign, he had a brief stint in the Arizona Fall League, batting .375/.565/.625 in six games Back at the Minor Leagues’ highest stage, Gorman has learned to soak in as much as possible from his more seasoned teammates.
“We’ve got a pretty good pitching staff with a lot of experience,” he said. “It’s fun just talking to them and picking their brains about how they attack hitters and things like that. All the position players are really good players, but really [interacting with] the pitchers is huge. It’s fun being able to learn from those guys who have experience in the big leagues and a lot of it.”
After winning on Opening Day followed by Friday and Saturday victories, the Redbirds will take a split of their season-starting six-game set into a road trip to Charlotte. That’s a good enough starting point for Gorman and his team.
“We’re going into next week with a travel day tomorrow, trying to continue what we’re doing at the end of this week and take it forward from there,” Gorman said.