Cardinals to call up top prospects Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore

The Cardinals lost to the Mets in extra innings on Pete Alonso’s walk-off home run Thursday afternoon (box score). They are in a bit of a funk now, having lost eight of their last 12. Perhaps the new roster moves will inject some life into the ball club, because they are tapping into the minors to bring up their top prospects.

It’ll be second baseman Nolan Gorman, who will start Friday, and left-handed pitcher Matthew Liberatore, who gets the nod Saturday.

Gorman, 22, was the Cardinals’ first-round pick out of high school in the 2018 draft. Through 34 games in Triple-A this season, he’s hitting .308/.367/.677 with 15 homers, 23 RBI, 31 runs and three steals. The strikeout rate has been a concern, as he’s fanned 50 times in 133 at-bats. Still, that’s difference-making power. Here’s what CBS Sports prospect expert R.J. Anderson had to say about Gorman:

The other Cardinal in the top 20. 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. 

With Gorman coming up, the corresponding move will be sending outfielder Tyler O’Neill to the injured list due to a shoulder issue. 

The Cardinals have yet to use Tommy Edman at shortstop, though it’s been hinted that is a possible plan moving forward. Now that Gorman is up, surely they’ll at least give it a shot. That would truly maximize the Cardinals’ offensive potential the rest of the season. Of course, they could also just kick Edman to the outfield until O’Neill is ready to return. 

Liberatore, 22, was also a first-rounder in 2018 out of high school (both from Arizona, too). He was selected by Tampa Bay and came to the Cardinals in the trade that sent Randy Arozarena to the Rays. In seven starts for Triple-A Memphis this year, Liberatore is 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 46 strikeouts in 40 innings. Here’s Anderson’s analysis on Liberatore:

Liberatore is best known as the key piece in the Randy Arozarena trade for the Cardinals. Arozarena’s ascent to stardom has obscured that Liberatore ought to be a quality big-league player himself. He spent last season in Triple-A, where he accumulated a 4.04 ERA and a 3.73 strikeout-to-walk ratio despite having previously not pitched above Single-A. Liberatore, who throws strikes with a four-pitch arsenal chock full of average or better offerings, should debut in the majors early next season. He ought to settle in as a middle-of-the-rotation starter.

It’s possible Liberatore is making a spot start. The Cardinals had a doubleheader on Tuesday with Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz taking starts. They don’t have another day off until Wednesday, May 25. Using Liberatore enables them to avoid using anyone on short rest and keep the rest of the rotation intact. 


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