Why Gorman looks like the next big Cards slugger

June 8th, 2022

 has been up with the Cardinals for a few weeks now, and it's already worth taking a look at the early Statcast data we have on the No. 27 prospect in baseball

The 22-year-old is already flashing his slugging ability -- look at the 110.6 mph, 449-foot home run he crushed at Busch Stadium for his first in the big leagues -- and the style of his slugging even bears an interesting resemblance to another Cardinals star. 

Here's why Gorman's bat looks promising already, beyond the .304 batting average, .565 slugging percentage and three home runs through his first 14 MLB games.

Gorman has put 28 balls in play so far in the big leagues. Only four of those have been on the ground. He has the lowest ground-ball rate in the Majors since he got called up.

Twenty-two of those 28 batted balls have been line drives or fly balls -- 12 line drives, 10 fly balls -- and the average exit velocity of those line drives and fly balls is 96.7 mph, putting Gorman just outside the top 10% of hitters. That's what you need if you want to be a slugger.

Gorman's 78.6% air-ball rate is the second-highest in the league since his debut on May 20. His rate of hard-hit air contact (line drives and fly balls hit 95 mph or harder) is the highest. Compare him to the top lefty sluggers over that time:

LHB with highest rate of hard-hit LD/FB since Gorman's debut
Min. 25 batted balls since May 20

  1. Nolan Gorman, Cardinals: 46.4%
  2. Joey Votto, Reds: 43.2%
  3. Kyle Schwarber, Phillies: 42.7%
  4. Yordan Alvarez, Astros: 40.6%
  5. Bryce Harper, Phillies: 40.2%

Half of Gorman's contact has been in the launch angle sweet spot of 8-32 degrees. Nearly half has been hard-hit. And he's barreling just under one in every five balls he hits, which means he's making ideal contact -- barrels are the combinations of exit velocity and launch angle most likely to go for home runs and extra-base hits. Those hard-hit, sweet-spot and barrel rates are all very good.

Gorman has tapped heavily into his pull power in the early going. Half of his batted balls overall have been pulled, compared to a quarter each to straightaway center and the opposite field. Nearly all of his hits have been pulled, 10 of 14, including all three of his homers and five of his six extra-base hits.

Gorman's profile -- hitting everything in the air, driving the ball to the pull side -- is, interestingly, a lot like a lefty version of the Cardinals' other Nolan. Nolan Arenado hits that way, too.

Arenado's average launch angle is 23.9 degrees, nearly identical to Gorman's average launch angle of 24.2 degrees; both are among the highest in baseball. Only a quarter of Arenado's balls in play are ground balls. Twenty-one of his 23 extra-base hits have been pulled, including all 10 of his homers. Sound familiar?

But Gorman did just get his first opposite-field base hit, going the other way to beat the shift against Cubs closer David Robertson with two runners on and two outs in the ninth inning of a tied game on Saturday.

That hit is one sign that Gorman has the ability to adjust his approach. He also uses two different swings depending on the situation, one with a bigger leg kick and one with no stride.

He can still drive the ball with either approach. All three of Gorman's home runs, for example, have come with two strikes, using no stride.

Gorman will want to cut down on his swing-and-miss, and chase less often than he is right now. But he's an aggressive hitter who's hitting the ball hard and in the air immediately. For a top power-hitting prospect who's supposed to be a key bat for the most consistent offense in baseball, Gorman is showing the right indicators.