March 12, 2013; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings (8) hat and glove lay in the dugout against the New York Yankees at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Hot Rod of the Day 4/5/14: Granden Goetzman

With the start of a new season for the Bowling Green Hot Rods, Robbie and I discussed several ways to keep up with the team and still keep things interesting. Today is the first installment of the end product of the discussion: Hot Rod of the Day. Each day we will take a look at a Hot Rod who was a huge factor in the previous night’s game, and shed a little more light on him.

Last night, Bowling Green walked off, literally, in their second game of the season against the South Bend Silver Hawks. Crossing the plate on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 9th was Granden Goetzman–but only after tying the game with his second RBI triple of the contest.

Goetzman, 21, was a second round draft pick in 2011 out of Palmetto High School in Palmetto, Florida. He spent all of 2011 after signing with the Gulf Coast League, and all of 2012 in Princeton. Last year, he spent time in extended spring training before an ill-fated month with the Hot Rods led him to play the entire Short Season schedule with the Hudson Valley Renegades.

Once Goetzman was drafted, he made an immediate change in his game, going from an infielder (shortstop, primarily) to moving to a corner outfield position. The big shift he needs to make: spending as much time on the field as he does in the dugout. A lingering back issue dating back to his high school days derailed his 2012 season, and a groin injury messed up his pro debut in 2011. Finally last year, though, he was healthy, and hopefully he can start living up to his potential.

When it comes to his on-field attributes, however, Goetzman’s abilities are tantalizing. The Rays love his hand eye coordination and his bat speed in the batter’s box, and he also has the foot speed to be a significantly stolen base threat. Some scouts say he can be a five-tool guy, and note that Goetzman is up there for the highest potential and outfield prospects in the system. While Goetzman has shown all sorts of potential with his bat speed,though, he hasn’t used it well, and last year saw a batting average below the Mendoza Line (and he didn’t even reach .200 in his Bowling Green stint). His patience and pitch recognition still need plenty of work. But if the Rays thought he wasn’t worth the time, he wouldn’t be in Bowling Green now, and they’re hoping that this year he can turn the corner.

Granden Goetzman is a high-reward prospect, and it’ll be interesting to see if A) his struggles continue and B) how long or short the leash is before he gets cut loose in his fourth professional season. But a .444 batting average (even after 2 games), a pair of triples, and a game-winning run are a great way to start the year, and the efforts shouldn’t (and officially haven’t) gone unnoticed. So congratulations, Granden, for  being our first ever Hot Rod of the Day!

Tags: Granden Goetzman Tampa Bay Rays

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