SPORTS

Cardinals call up Glendale-area prospects, childhood friends, on same day

Liberatore, Gorman to make big league debuts

Posted 5/20/22

The St. Louis Cardinals brought up their second- and third-ranked prospects for major league debuts on May 20, and it is the natural continuation of the lifelong story and friendship between Glendale-area products Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore.

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SPORTS

Cardinals call up Glendale-area prospects, childhood friends, on same day

Liberatore, Gorman to make big league debuts

Posted

The St. Louis Cardinals brought up their second- and third-ranked prospects for major league debuts on May 20, and it is the natural continuation of the lifelong story and friendship between Glendale-area products Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore.

Gorman will start at second base Friday night in the series opener at Pittsburgh, and Liberatore will pitch in the Saturday, May 21 game against the Pirates.

“Giving him the chance to come up here and show what he’s capable of doing on Saturday is also something we’re really looking forward to,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said of Liberatore May 19 in an Associated Press interview.

The two played Little League ball together and were childhood friends. Every time life threatened to send their careers in divergent paths, the game brought them back together,

Liberatore played for Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, and Gorman for rival O’Connor in northwest Phoenix, both within the Deer Valley Unified School District. In their senior year they faced off in a showcase game at Grand Canyon University attended by more than 50 MLB scouts.

Their schools then famously played for the 6A state title in 2018. During that playoff run Liberatore pitched a complete game victory over Mesa Mountain View to get Mountain Ridge to that final. He was unavailable to pitch in the title game, and O’Connor cruised to a 7-1 win.

Both were first round MLB draft picks that summer.

The Tampa Bay Rays chose Liberatore, a 6-foot-5 lefthanded pitcher, with the No. 16 pick. Gorman, a power hitting third baseman, went to the St. Louis Cardinals at No. 19.

A big trade allowed them the chance to team up again on the big stage.

Liberatore was the centerpiece prospect in the January 2020 deal, which sent he and catching prospect Edgardo Rodriguez and a Competitive Balance Round B Draft pick to the Cardinals for outfielders José Martínez and Randy Arozarena and a Competitive Balance Round A Draft pick.

A trade almost exactly one year later changed Gorman’s path. In January 2021, he suddenly was not the organization’s best third baseman named Nolan, after the Cardinals landed six-time all star Nolan Arenado.

Gorman spent the last year transitioning to second base.

“He’s going to get here and he’s going to show what he’s able to do,” Marmol said. “He’s been working hard at minimizing strikeouts, so it’s something he’s aware of, we’re aware of, and he’s going at it pretty good. But he’s still making a lot of contact and driving the baseball. We have a need, so he’s coming to fill it.”

The Associated Press, Jacob Seliga and Richard Smith contributed to this story.

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