SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — “It’s fun to see the kids running around the park and wanting autographs and stuff,” Springfield Cardinals third baseman Nolan Gorman said after batting practice Wednesday. “It just feels like baseball again.”

As protocols lift, the Cardinals’ number two prospect is getting his first glimpse at a filled Hammons Field.

It’s a ballpark he first saw completely empty last year as part of the taxi squad’s alternate site roster.

“Seeing people in the stands again,” Gorman said. “Last summer, the alternate site was here. Nobody was in the stands. It was really weird.”

Back then, most players were forced to find unconventional ways to stay in form.

Gorman found his not in the ballpark, and not even in reality.

“We had a year off and I was introduced to virtual reality. It’s really cool. You just put the headset on. You’re in a stadium and you’re facing whoever you want that’s in the big leagues, pretty much.”

It’s a tech trick the now 21 year old picked up from a veteran for the big league birds, Paul Goldschmidt back in Spring Training of 2020.

Above all, Gorman says the VR has helped him with patience at the plate – and in turn, his patience off of it.

After his first nine double-a games Gorman was batting just .143, but new Springfield Manager Jose Leger reminded him of that very word Gorman had been working on: patience.

“We had a conversation early in the year when I sat him down and said, ‘Listen, don’t worry about the results right now. You’re working hard. Eventually it’s going to come your way,” Leger said.

And it did.

From May 14th to May 21st over six games, Gorman’s batting averaged jumped from .143 to .327 all thanks to trusting in himself.

Something he also needed on February 1st of this year, when St. Louis signed a little known player who shared his first name and position: perpetual All-Star Nolan Arenado.

“It was great for the Cardinals,” Gorman said “Obviously having in the lineup has helped this year.”

Gorman again put faith in himself, remember his days playing shortstop through high school, and volunteered to spend some time over at 2nd.

“Figured I could give it a shot and it turns out they like it so we’re going to keep it rolling,” Gorman said.

“Sky’s the limit for that kid,” Leger said. “He’s got talent, but there’s only so much you can do if you don’t put the work in. So he’s preparing for battle. He’s preparing for the bigger picture which is the big leagues for him.”