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Tipsheet: Analysts praise Nolan Gorman's progress in Cardinals system

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Second day of Cardinals full squad workouts

Nolan Gorman takes batting practice at spring training in February 2021 in Jupiter, Fla. (Colter Peterson, cpeterson@post-dispatch.com)

The Cardinals are counting on prospect Nolan Gorman to produce at some point next season, since he could fill a big need as a left-handed hitter with some pop.

He has progressed quickly through the organization thanks to his raw power. He is learning to make more consistent contact and use more of the field.

Gorman has reduced his strikeout rate and made himself into a viable fielder at second base.

Fans question the wisdom of counting on a young hitter. They want the Cardinals to invest in a significant veteran hitter when the lockout ends to plug into the middle of the lineup.

But fans also throw a fit when young hitters like Luke Voit or Randy Arozarena don’t get a chance in St. Louis because another player blocked them.

In this case, Gorman is an elite prospect -- so he will need get some big league at bats next season to keep his career moving forward.

Will he adapt fairly quickly, like Dylan Carlson? Will he need a longer process, like Tyler O’Neill?

We’ll see. MILB Pipeline offered this view of him:

Gorman has all the ingredients teams covet in a young power hitter, possessing a high-end blend of physical strength and bat speed, with a left-handed swing that’s conducive to make fly-ball contact. Gorman's swing-and-miss tendencies can get exposed by elevated velocity and well-sequenced secondary pitches, and the approach can become too pull-heavy at times, but he drives the ball to all fields with plus-plus raw power at his best, and scouts generally like his chances of becoming at least an average hitter with plus game power.

For those doubters out there, here are three more views on Gorman from independent analysts:

Kyle Glaser, Baseball America: “Gorman, 21, started 77 of his 119 games at second base this season while rising to Triple-A. He also started all five of his games in the Arizona Fall League at second base before his AFL stint was cut short by hamstring tightness. Gorman drew solid reviews for his defense at third base in previous years, but second base was a question mark given his physical, muscular build. He proved surehanded with only seven errors in his first year at the position and rapidly improved his footwork turning double plays. By the end of the year, even opposing scouts opined he would be able to play second base in the major leagues. The Cardinals currently have Gold Glove winner Tommy Edman at second base, but with Gorman’s offensive potential, the position projected to be his as long as he showed he could handle it defensively. With Gorman’s defense at the keystone drawing better than expected reviews, there is now a strong possibility his time will come sooner rather than later in St. Louis.”

Jeffrey Paternostro, Baseball Prospectus: “Gorman started taking grounders at the keystone in spring—there’s another Nolan entrenched at the hot corner in St. Louis—and he’s . . . playable there. He’s not the rangiest middle infielder but is still around an average runner, and moves well enough. He looks fine on the double play turn, and the left-side quality arm is a weapon as a second baseman. Gorman has a bit of a Brian Dozier build, and I’d expect he could play Dozier quality defense at second. The whole point of moving him to second is to get the bat in the lineup, and it’s progressing fine. Unlike (Jordan) Walker who has more of a traditional power hitter’s swing, Gorman can look like he’s taking a two-strike emergency hack at times. He creates big whip and separation, and while it doesn’t look pretty, he can also flick it 400 feet to dead center. Gorman doesn’t always create ideal contact doing this, and his batting profile notably tanked a bit in Triple-A. That said, when he does lift the ball, it goes far. There might be a little less hit and power projection here than with Walker, but Gorman is just about ready to be an above-average regular.”

R.J. Anderson, CBSSports.com: “Gorman made two noteworthy changes last year, moving from third to second base on a nearly full-time basis and dropping his strikeout rate upon reaching Triple-A. Gorman's improved contact rate was accompanied by a change in his swing mechanics, as he lowered his hands to streamline his swing. He has well-above-average power, the kind you seldom see at the keystone; provided his defense is deemed tolerable (and he has improved), he should spend most of the 2022 season as the Cardinals' starting second baseman.”

Does that make you feel any better? 

MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE

Questions to ponder while wondering if the Blues will set a record for the number of 6-foot-6 players used in one season:

With COVID-19 spreading through the NHL, when will the league quit pretending its players will playing in the Olympics?

How close is the NBA to postponing a bunch of game as its outbreak worsens?

Will this be the recruiting class that propels Eli Drinkwitz onto a good run as Missouri's football coach?

TALKIN’ BASEBALL

Here’s what folks have been writing about Our National Pastime:

Zach Kram, The Ringer: “The most lucrative free agent contracts signed so far this offseason all have a somewhat surprising trait in common. Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Jon Gray signed with the Rangers, who finished in last place in the AL West in 2021. Javier Báez and Eduardo Rodríguez joined the Tigers, who finished 77-85 last season; Max Scherzer and Starling Marte joined the Mets, who finished with the same record. Robbie Ray inked with the Mariners, who landed just shy of a wild-card berth; Kevin Gausman replaced Ray on the Blue Jays, who did the same. Overall, the 11 largest free agent contracts—worth a collective $1.32 billion—have been handed out by teams that missed the 2021 playoffs. The most expensive deal for a player who’s signed with a reigning playoff team is Justin Verlander’s two-year, $50 million agreement to return to Houston. Typically, non-playoff teams are more likely to negotiate the top free agent deals. Across the 2016 through 2020 offseasons (we’re ignoring last offseason because of 2020’s strange playoff structure), 74 percent of free agents who signed contracts worth at least $100 million did so with teams that hadn’t reached the playoffs the previous season. That figure was 62 percent for contracts worth at least $50 million and 54 percent for contracts worth at least $25 million.”

Mike Axisa, CBSSports.com: “Within the last 12 months Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Trea Turner. Marcus Semien (twice), and Javier Baez (twice) have all changed teams, and Carlos Correa and Trevor Story are poised to do the same after the lockout. Yet the Yankees are after Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Andrelton Simmons?  Really? Simmons is no longer a championship caliber player and Kiner-Falefa is just fine. It could be the Yankees are posturing and will come in with a Godfather offer for Correa soon after the lockout. It's possible. The thing is, when the Yankees set their sights on an elite free agent, they don't play around. They made a huge offer early and let other teams know what's what. They did it with CC Sabathia and Gerrit Cole. They haven't done it with Correa (or any shortstop). Story’s throwing issues and down 2021 season in general made him a riskier investment than Correa, who is more than two full years younger than Story. It's always easy to come up with reasons to not sign a player. In Correa's case, they can all be easily refuted.” 

Will Laws, SI.com: “(Freddie Freeman) and the Braves could not come to terms on a new contract before the lockout, extending a negotiating process that’s spanned several offseasons. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman has reported the five-time All-Star wants a deal in the neighborhood of six years and $180 million. That's reportedly one more year than Atlanta was hoping to guarantee Freeman, who would be tied to the team through his age-37 season on such a pact. Yet one extra year for a franchise icon seems to be more than worth it to maintain the status quo of a title-winning team and the post-championship bliss permeating the fan base. There’s also the notion that the first baseman seems uncommonly primed for his position to age well into his late 30s as a slugger with a keen batting eye who can spray the ball to all fields. Regardless, keeping your face of the franchise in limbo coming off back-to-back seasons in which he won an MVP award and a World Series title is a strange way to do business, especially when there seems to be enough room on the books to end this staredown. Atlanta’s current projected 2022 payroll ranks 12th at around $125 million, according to Spotrac. That figure was around $153 million last season, and the team’s corporate owners, Liberty Media, raked in record profits this year as attendance returned to prepandemic levels. Through the end of September, the team’s '21 revenue had reached $466 million. And that was before the Braves reaped any benefits from the playoff run, during which fans packed Truist Park and the surrounding team-owned entertainment complex. Anthopoulos has indeed indicated payroll will increase. It stands to reason Freeman would already be secured if the Braves didn’t have so many other areas to worry about shoring up from last year’s 88-win outfit.”

MEGAPHONE

"I think Buck Showalter is the smartest man in baseball, and that is not hyperbole. When you sit down and talk to Buck about the game, he is just so sharp looking at it from all different angles and his record speaks for itself and there is not a more prepared manager as well. You take his intelligence and his preparation and I think he’s a great manager. Just look at what he’s done with so many franchises, building them up from the bottom."

Former big league slugger Mark Teixeira, offering up a job recommendation to the New York Post.

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