Q&A with Johnson City Cardinals slugger Nolan Gorman

Joe Avento • Updated Jul 28, 2018 at 8:19 PM

Nolan Gorman is on a mission, and the first stop on his way to St. Louis is Johnson City.

The Johnson City Cardinals third baseman has the distinction of being the first player born in the 2000s to be drafted by a Major League Baseball team. As the 19th pick in the June draft, he signed a contract that included a $3,231,700 bonus.

Gorman was the MaxPreps national high school player of the year this spring, and a look at his senior statistics show why. He hit .421 while belting 10 home runs and driving in 32 runs. He was also walked 46 times and led his team to a state championship in Arizona.

That title capped a high school career in which he hit .419 with 32 home runs, 118 RBIs and 115 runs scored.

He won home run derbies in Wrigley Field and Petco Park in San Diego as well as being part of Team USA that captured the gold medal at the U-18 World Cup.

In Johnson City, Gorman has performed at the plate, hitting .290 with seven home runs and 16 RBIs in his first 27 professional games. It didn’t take long to flash his power, either. His first hit as a pro — in his second at-bat — was a home run.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound left-handed slugger took a few minutes to answer some questions before a recent game.

As the 19th pick in the draft, your signing bonus was more than $3 million. How does it feel to be 18 years old and have that kind of money in the bank?

A: You just have to put that away. That shouldn’t affect how you are as a person. Put that away and save it for later and just do what you can to make yourself better to get to the big leagues.

Being a first-round pick comes with added pressure. How have you handled that?

A: That’s in the past now. It was just a point in time I had to go through. We’re all working to get better and improve ourselves and be able to help the big league team eventually.

You’re in high school one moment and playing professional baseball for a living the next. What’s the biggest transition?

A: For a lot of guys it’s just living on your own and coming out to the ball field every day. In high school, you go to class and go to practice every day, but you’re not playing that many games.

Midway through your first year in professional baseball, you look pretty comfortable on the field. Are you as comfortable as you look?

A: I think the coaching staff, everyone has made the transition for me from high school ball pretty easy.

What’s the biggest difference between high school baseball and the Appalachian League.

A: The competition level is far beyond high school. Guys are throwing 90, 93 every day. You’re seeing quality starters that make their pitches. The pace of the game is so much quicker than in high school.

You don’t look like you’ve been overwhelmed by anything your first season as a pro has thrown at you. Has anything every overwhelmed you on a baseball field?

A: Not at all. Baseball is a big mental game. The physical part, I was blessed with. Mentally, you just have to work on getting better every day.

Do you feel like you’re getting better? If so, what parts of your game are improving?

A: All parts. The coaching staff helps with everything, mentally and physically. Even off the field, too. I’ve learned a lot over this past month and a half that we’ve been playing. It’s going good so far.

Living in Arizona, you probably weren’t a Cardinals fan growing up. What did you know about the organization?

A: I never really followed the Cardinals much. I knew they were really top notch and now that I’m in the organization, it’s been just that.