Mid-Season Dirty Thirty-Five: Prospect #3

Since this is the mid-season write-up, it's just a quick overview of the player. When we get to the preseason re ranking in the offseason, they'll be a lot more involved.


All stats are current as of 8/4/2019.


All write-ups were published during all-star week.





Prospect #3: 3B Nolan Gorman


Palm Beach Cardinals

Drafted 19th overall in the 2018 draft

Age 19




RESIST THE URGE TO FREAK OUT ABOUT GORMAN'S STRUGGLES AT PEORIA AND HIS ASSIGNMENT TO PALM BEACH. IT'LL BE OK.

ALSO, RESIST THE URGE TO ASSUME THAT GORMAN IS A STEP AWAY FROM THE MAJORS OR THAT HE'S GOING TO BE THE SAVIOR OF THE LINEUP.

After getting off to a blistering-hot start for Peoria that saw him hit 325/389/650 with six home runs, six doubles, and a triple in 90 April plate appearances, things really calmed down for the elite teenager. From May 1st until his promotion to Palm Beach on June 17th, Gorman slashed 199/323/348 with four home runs, eight doubles, and two triples in 192 plate appearances.

This was, in large part, due to how he was attacked. When Gorman was surging in April, pitchers were feeding him a steady diet of breaking pitches on the outside half/quarter of the zone. This allowed Gorman to sit on, and drive, the pitches that crept over the middle of the plate. It was right at about the beginning of May that the attack philosophy changed towards Gorman. Instead of getting the junk on the outside half, pitchers were starting Gorman out with fastball away, and following that with breaking pitches (and change-ups) low and in. Often times, Gorman would be swinging at pitches in the dirt. Over small stretches, Gorman would start to bust out of his slump, but it never maintained.

NONE OF THIS IS ALARMING. So, don't worry too much about it. All that it tells us is what we already knew. We knew that the Midwest League would be a tough assignment for an 18-year-old. We knew that Gorman was going to struggle against left-handed pitchers. We knew that he struggled against advanced pitchers. It's actually encouraging that he was taking as many walks as he was, even if he was striking out too much. We knew all of this was coming, even if we hoped it wouldn't. It's truly fine!! Gorman was still in the 99 percentile when it comes to the success rate of teenagers in the Midwest League! If anything, this is just another example of why you should never invest too heavily in thestats that are right in front of you.


Then, at the mid-point of the Peoria season, right after the Midwest League All-Star Game, Gorman received the promotion to Palm Beach in what is now clearly a scheduled and predetermined decision.

So far, Gorman has been fine in the Florida State League. He's striking out more and walking less, and he's doing it without displaying very little slug. Don't worry, it will come. As you know, the Florida State League is THE pitcher's haven of the minor leagues. On top of that, this is the level in the minors when the pitching-cream usually starts to rise to the top. Back in the day, a prospect like Gorman would skip this level. These days, with so many different ways to measure success from a StatCast/TrackMan/Rapsodo etc. standpoint, it's not as detrimental for a position player to spend time at Palm Beach. Just one year ago, 19-year-old Dylan Carlson handled the league well-enough. Plus, with Palm Beach/Jupiter being the Cardinals' head quarters, Gorman will get all of the instruction at third base that he can handle, and from the beloved Jose Oquendo, at that!

Speaking of his defense, there are times when Gorman looks like a surefire, well above-average third baseman. There are also times (and this seemed to coincide with his offensive struggles) when you worry that he is going to have to find a corner outfield position to man in the long term. I think what that tells us, above anything else, is just how difficult it is to be as young and inexperienced as he is at these advanced levels. I have faith that the times that he flashes above-average will become more normal than the times of struggle, with more reps. That's the perfect segue to the next point, and it's that Gorman is an incredible hard work and "baseball rat". I have all of the faith in the world that this young man will max-out all of his skills. He's too smart and dedicated and skill to fall short.

While his 2019 might seem like a mixed bag, I view it as a strong success. Gorman isn't putting up the gaudy numbers that we were all drooling over in 2018, but he is showing that he is capable of holding his own in leagues that are sharper and more refined than his current game is. I do worry that his power has dried up since May 1st, but I do expect it to blow back up when he catches up to the speed of the A+ level.


Thanks to Fangraph for the stats!


Thanks For Reading!!

Kyle Reis