It’s the first trip back to the minors for Gorman, who entered the season ranked among the sport’s top 50 prospects heading into the 2022 season. Gorman captivated Cards fans with a Herculean run through Triple-A prior to his initial promotion, raking at a .308/.367/.677 clip and belting 15 home runs in just 147 plate appearances. Upon his initial promotion, he delivered on the considerable hype surrounding his bat, slugging three homers in his first 11 games and carrying an OPS north of 1.100 in that time. Gorman cooled but was solid through the All-Star break.
It’s been a struggle for the 22-year-old as the season has worn on, however. He’s hit just .207/.273/.388 in the second half — including a grisly .150/.227/.250 with a 39.4% strikeout rate over the past month. Gorman has long been considered a bat-first prospect, and it’s worth noting that he moved from third base to second base once the Cardinals acquired Nolan Arenado, so Gorman’s current position is still relatively new to him. That said, both Defensive Runs Saved (-5) and Outs Above Average (-11) are quite down on his glovework through the first 549 innings of his career there.
Some early struggles in the career of a 22-year-old isn’t any great surprise, and Gorman still figures to be a key part of the Cardinals’ future moving forward. For now, he’ll be in Triple-A for at least 10 days, as he can only return sooner than that if he’s replacing an injured player. From a service time vantage point, Gorman won’t finish the current season with a full year (nor would he have even if he’d remained on the roster through season’s end). He’ll still be controllable for at least the 2028 season, though with 122 days of service under his belt, he could wind up reaching arbitration a year early as a Super Two player, if he accrues full years of service time in 2023-24. The more pressing short-term question is simply one of whether he’ll return this season and whether he’ll be a part of the team’s postseason roster.
With Gorman optioned out, second base seems likely to belong to Brendan Donovan for the time being. A rookie himself, the 25-year-old Donovan never generated the same prospect fanfare as Gorman but has nonetheless turned in a strong .282/.391/.373 batting line through 418 plate appearances to begin his big league career. Donovan has nowhere near the same level of power (or much power at all), but he’s walked at a hearty 12.4% clip while showing good bat-to-ball skills and proving to be a tough strikeout (15.6%).
In the long-term outlook, Donovan profiles best as a Swiss army knife who can play nearly any position at a capable level. He’s already logged time at all four infield spots and in both outfield corners this year, drawing particularly strong marks in small samples at the hot corner. Like Gorman, he’s controllable another six seasons, as he’ll finish the 2022 campaign about a week shy of a full year of service time. That’ll make him a slam-dunk Super Two player, barring future optional assignments, placing him on pace for arbitration following the 2024 season.