Gorman slugs three-run HR in AFL opener

October 14th, 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's no secret that Nolan Gorman can hit for power. The 21-year-old has long been considered a slugger, but he was sent to the Arizona Fall League to get more defensive reps at second base and to further refine his overall offensive approach.

Through one night, everything seems to be trending in the right direction. Gorman took away a hit and fared well at the keystone and hit a three-run homer in Glendale’s 4-3 win over Scottsdale on opening night of the Arizona Fall League.

Gorman, who grew up and went to high school roughly a half hour away from Scottsdale Stadium, made a nice defensive play to end the second inning as he picked a short hop and took a hit away from Michael Amditis to end the frame.

“I like diving for balls and picking balls,” said Gorman, who had several friends and family members in attendance. “It’s always fun to be out there and be able to help the pitcher out.”

In the top of the third, just a few minutes after helping his pitcher defensively, Gorman did so with his bat. The Cardinals’ No. 1 prospect delivered the game’s decisive blow, a three-run homer over the right-field wall.

“A homer after a nice defensive play is always really good,” Gorman said. “Obviously hitting is my strong suit, so hitting a home run and getting runs for the team is big.”

While the homer was certainly a welcomed result, Gorman was also pleased with the process. After taking a four pitch walk in his first at-bat, he took the first two pitches in the third before driving the 1-1 changeup out of the yard on his first swing of the night.

“That’s what I’m here working on, good plate discipline and being able to hit my pitch,” Gorman said. “So that’s what I did. That was my approach today.”

Refining that approach has been a work in progress as Gorman climbed the ladder of the Cardinals’ system. The 2018 first-round pick got off to a slow start once he was promoted to Triple-A Memphis in late June.

However, after some adjustments Gorman found his rhythm and ultimately hit .274 with 14 homers over 76 games in Triple-A.

“To start, it was a little slow,” Gorman said of the jump to Triple-A. “Just going through a little swing change and had to dial down the approach and keep it more simple and get good pitches to hit. But once that happened, it was all good.”

Whether it’s making adjustments at the plate or learning a new defensive position, Gorman has proven to be a quick study early in his professional career. He’s handled every challenge the Cardinals have put in front of him, which certainly bodes well for him to make his debut early in the 2022 campaign.

The Cardinals prospect stole the show in his homecoming, but Gorman wasn’t the only slugger flexing his muscle Wednesday night. Triston Casas, the Red Sox No. 2 prospect, finished the regular season strong and seemingly carried that success with him to Arizona, homering in his first at-bat of the night. Casas, who later added a run-scoring single and finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs, hit .366 with six homers over 12 September games for Double-A Portland, before he was promoted to Triple-A Worcester where he played the final nine games of the season.