ST. LOUIS — Nolan Gorman had just finished his first round of batting practice on Thursday night when Brandon Allen, the Memphis hitting coach, came up to him with a message.
“He came out and said he had just got off the phone and he needed me to go pack my stuff and see the trainer,” Gorman said.
That was how the Cardinals’ top prospect found out he is heading to the major leagues.
Gorman, who celebrated his 22nd birthday nine days ago, had a flight booked to Pittsburgh on Thursday night and is scheduled to be in the lineup to make his major-league debut on Friday night, playing second base.
“It’s amazing, it’s what I’ve worked for my whole life,” Gorman said. “The big thing is getting there, and staying there. It’s a special moment.”
About five minutes after he was told about his promotion, Gorman found out that his childhood teammate and best friend, Matthew Liberatore, will be joining him and will make his major-league debut when he starts Saturday night’s game.
Liberatore had been in the outfield, shagging during batting practice, when he was told he was being called up. The two found each other in the locker room at the end of batting practice.
“We were able to see each other,” Gorman said. ”We just had that look in our eyes when we saw each other. We were just so happy for each other. It’s just awesome, without a doubt.”
Gorman had three hits in Wednesday night’s game, all singles, to raise his average to .308. He was leading all of Triple A with 15 homers in 34 games.
Cardinals manager Oli Marmol announced the moves in his postgame press conference in New York. Tyler O’Neill will be placed on the injured list, and another move will be made on Friday to open a spot for Liberatore. Jack Flaherty was transferred to the 60-day injured list, but that will not delay his return when he is ready to pitch.
Liberatore, who also is 22, was 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA in seven starts for Memphis. He had been scheduled to start on Wednesday night but was scratched with Jake Woodford getting the start instead.
In his most recent start on May 12 against Norfolk, Liberatore allowed one run over six innings. For the season he has 46 strikeouts in 40 innings.
Just a day before his promotion, Gorman had sat in the visiting dugout at CoolRay Stadium and thought about what the moment would be like when he got the word that he was heading to the Cardinals.
Little did he knew it was coming 24 hours later.
“Everyone who has gotten called up, everyone in the clubhouse is super pumped for them,” Gorman said. “It’s a special moment. It’s obviously going to be super exciting. The family’s going to be pumped. I can’t even tell you how many people might be there. It will be fun.”
Gorman said what he had been working on was not missing pitches he should hit, and realizing that often he was only going to get one good pitch to hit during each at-bat.
“Any way to help the team win,” he said. “Go up there and hit the ball hard, that’s the biggest goal.”
Gorman has watched from a distance as Juan Yepez and Brandon Donovan reached the majors this season and done well, perhaps helping open the door for him.
“I’ve played with those guys since I’ve been in the organization,” Gorman said. “It’s always fun to see guys have success at the highest level. It seems like they are having fun doing it.”
Gorman was the Cardinals’ first-round pick in the 2018 draft, the 19th overall selection. Almost immediately he became the top prospect in the organization.
Liberatore was picked in the first round in that same draft by Tampa Bay, then was traded to the Cardinals before the 2020 season in the trade that sent Randy Arozarena and Jose Martinez to the Rays.
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