There is not a hitter in this year’s draft with more buzz in regard to power than Nolan Gorman of Sandra Day O’Connor High School in North Phoenix, having won the Under Armour All-American Game and MLB All-Star Game High School Home Run Derbies this past year.
Arriving at the field it doesn’t take a keen eye to figure out who on the diamond is a top prospect. Gorman is the living cliché of a man among boys, as his 6’1” frame has good strength throughout and just plain looks bigger than those who are, in reality, bigger than him. He has a real shot to go in the top ten, maybe even in the top five of the draft if a team likes his defensive profile enough.
So, let’s start there, his defense. He is a third base prospect with question marks around whether or not he can stick there. His arm is nothing special but isn’t a negative either. In the end it will grade out about 50 because he can get some zip on it when he needs to. In the game last Wednesday I was at along with scouts from about 15 different teams, he showed the good and bad in his defensive ability.
In a popup to shallow left, he demonstrated his below average speed and real lack of range running down a ball in the air that his incredibly athletic teammate, and later round draft prospect, shortstop Jayce Easley got closer to catching than Gorman did. Then, later in the game while in on the grass, there was a well struck one hopper a full body length to his glove side that he reacted to and slid laterally very well and made an impressive play. In the end, he should be able to stick at third but never be a defensive asset, but he won’t be a liability either.
Even if he does eventually move to first base, Gorman has the power profile to play there.
The ball jumps off his bat in ways that are rarely seen. In his first AB, he made terrible contact that initially had me looking for the left fielder to be coming in to make the play on a lazy pop up. Instead, when I turned my head to the outfield, that left fielder was up against the fence watching the ball carry out. The next two trips he was hit by a pitch and reached on an error when the left fielder dropped a pop up he actually did have to come in on. In his fourth trip to the plate, he dropped the bat head and lifted a deep fly ball over the 360 ft right center fence but, again, the contact wasn’t great.
Those are the pluses and minuses to his bat, the power comes even when there isn’t good contact, but the contact will be an issue. The bat doesn’t come through the zone with elite speed and there is stiffness to his swing.
There are holes in the bat that will result in a lot of strikeouts at the next level, which is going to be the big determining factor in regards to his ceiling. He was able to miss balls over the fence against a below average high school team, but what happens when he faces elite talent, like Matthew Liberatore perhaps? Tune back in after they face off in one month, April 19th, where I and likely multiple evaluators from every team in baseball will see the rare high school conference battle of two of the top high school players in the draft.