As much-hyped St. Louis Cardinals’ prospect Nolan Gorman keeps blasting home runs at Triple-A Memphis, there’s another slugger in the organization opening eyes at Double-A Springfield.
Moises Gomez, a 23-year-old outfielder whose offseason addition by the Cardinals made little noise, is creating plenty of fireworks a month into the season.
“I’m staying out of his way, just letting him do his thing,” Springfield manager Jose Leger said of Gomez, who hit his 12th home run Tuesday night in a 12-5 victory over Northwest Arkansas, the opener of a six-game series at Hammons Field.
That’s one more than Gorman as Gomez leads all of minor-league baseball in home runs. His latest was a majestic, high-arching drive that landed in the left-field bullpen.
The right-handed hitting outfielder from Caracas, Venezuela, also paces the minors with a 1.463 OPS (on-base plus slugging), 1.000 slugging percentage and 72 total bases while ranking second with 18 extra-base hits and third with a .417 average and 26 RBIs.
Not on the hot prospect lists
Unlike Gorman, who spent part of the 2021 season at Springfield, you won’t find Gomez on any of the Cardinals’ preseason hot prospect lists.
So where did this guy come from?
Gomez signed with the Tampa Bay Rays as a 16-year-old and spent six minor-league seasons in the organization. He hit 55 home runs, including eight in 2021 for Double-A Montgomery.
His best season came in 2018 at Low-A, with 19 home runs, 34 doubles and seven triples in 122 games. He also struck out a lot (137 times) and still has a high strikeout rate this season (28.8 percent) — but that total is notably down from 2021 (38 percent).
Feeling the need for a new beginning, Gomez asked the Rays for his release after last season. He returned to Venezuela and played winter ball, hoping another big-league team would take notice.
“Last year I had a good year with Tampa and came to an agreement for my papers so I could go play in Venezuela,” Gomez said prior to Tuesday’s game, through teammate and interpreter Pedro Pages.
“I was able to go play 10 games over there,” Gomez added. “It went really well and that’s when the Cardinals called.”
The 6-foot, 230-pound Gomez is built like a bull. He smiled when asked if he lifts weights, noting that most of the serious strength training is focused on his legs.
Gomez’s power is not a product of Hammons Field’s southerly wind gusts or cozy, 315-foot left-field wall. Seven of his home runs have come on the road as he’s twice been named Texas League Player of the Week.
“He has quick hands,” Leger said. “He has backspin to all fields, which is not easy to do.”
You won’t find Gomez — who said he finds Springfield “really pretty” and eats frequently at the Chipotle near the stadium — boasting about his hot start. He remains humble and focused.
Work ethic paying off
“It feels good, but I’m not done yet,” Gomez said of his first few weeks. “I want to keep hitting it hard. I forget about the past, pretty much. Yesterday is yesterday. Today is a new day and I just keep working on the little stuff.”
The work ethic includes defense. While he’s mostly played right field this season, he started in center on Tuesday and said he takes equal pride in his glove work as his hitting.
“I enjoy it, take pride in it,” Gomez said. “I forget about hitting, go and play defense and help the team that way.”
Leger, who didn’t get a good look at Gomez until late in spring training, said he’s impressed by the player’s work ethic. There is little wasted time or energy.
“He gets in the cage and he has his routine down,” Leger said. “Just watching the way he goes about his business, he is so serious. He takes every at-bat seriously and his concentration is at the highest level.
“You can’t fix what’s not broken. All you do is keep plugging him in there and keep helping him with his routine. Other than that, what do you do when a guy is as hot as he is?”
Dalton Roach pitched six innings, allowing two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts as the Cardinals improved to 10-12. Pedro Pages had a pair of two-run doubles and third baseman Jordan Walker tied a team record with four runs.
The Cardinals and Gomez continue the series against Northwest Arkansas at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday.
Cardinals home games this week
Today — vs. Northwest Arkansas, 6:35 p.m. (Purina Woof Wednesday)
Thursday — vs. Northwest Arkansas, 6:35 p.m. (Thirsty Thursday adult drink specials)
Friday — vs. Northwest Arkansas, 6:35 p.m. (Kids Dance Party, Fans on Field Fireworks)
Saturday — vs. Northwest Arkansas, 6:05 p.m. (St. Louis Cardinals Ticket for Two voucher giveaway)
Sunday — vs. Northwest Arkansas, 6:05 p.m. (Hiland Ice Cream Sunday)
Tickets: Call 417-863-0395 or visit the Cardinals box office at Hammons Field