The pressure is set squarely on Tyler Goeddel. But feeling that pressure, he has thrived.
Third baseman Tyler Goeddel was the fifth of the Rays 10 picks before the second round in the the 2011 MLB Draft, but instantly we knew that there was something different about him. The slot for his pick was $815,400. Goeddel signed at the signing deadline for 1.5 million, not only nearly double the slot bonus, but the second-highest bonus of any Rays draft pick, trailing only the Rays’ initial first round pick, Taylor Guerrieri. The expectations were going to be sky-high for Goeddel. It was another bold move for the Rays to start Goeddel in full-season ball at Low-A Bowling Green after he had signed too late to make his pro debut at a short-season league in 2011. But thus far in 2012, he has not just lived up to expectations, but surpassed them like it was nothing.
Goeddel, just 19 compared to the Low-A Midwest League average of just under 22 years old, has been batting 9th for the Bowling Green Hot Rods in this season. That may need to change- Goeddel is tearing up the competition. In 10 games, Goeddel has posted an incredible .385/.429/.615 line. He has slammed 3 doubles and 2 homers and driven in 8 RBI while scoring 11 runs, and he has also swiped 3 bases in 4 tries. He has struck out 11 times compared to 2 walks, but that’s the only fault to his game. His BAbip has been a crazy .500, definitely fluky, but he has slammed a ton of line drives, 21.1% of his batted balls as of a couple of days ago according to Minor League Central compared to the Midwest League’s 14.7% league average in 2011. Based on that line drive percentage and the Midwest League’s .306 BAbip in 2011, Goeddel’s expected BAbip comes out to a still-insane .437. Goeddel is hitting rockets all over the field. Defensively, Goeddel has posted a .920 fielding percentage, making 2 errors, but keep in mind that both of those marks are significantly better (for the moment) than Goeddel’s major league counterpart, Evan Longoria. Goeddel is wowing observers with his outstanding all-around game. But while Goeddel does not project as anywhere near a .385 hitter long-term, he has reached just the tip of the iceberg in terms of his potential.
Goeddel is a lanky 6’4″, 180. He still hasn’t grown into his frame. Nevertheless, his power and his immaculate ability to get the barrel of the bat on the ball are as clear as it gets. Goeddel may lose a little speed as he gets older, but that will be more than satisfactory thanks to his ridiculous package of all-around tools. He could have four true plus tools in his bat, power, glove, and arm, and his speed should still be at least average long-term. Goeddel is a long way from the big leagues (even in the dream scenario, he’s not in the big leagues until September 2015), and a lot can happen between now and then, but Goeddel’s upside is a player who hits .310 with 35 home runs, 15 steals, and Gold Glove-worthy defense at third base. That sounds very similar, maybe even a touch better, compared to the Rays’ current franchise cornerstone, Evan Longoria. Can Goeddel actually achieve that? So many things can go wrong, but it’s within his grasp. Longoria has options in his contract for the 2014, 2015, and 2016 seasons. Could Goeddel be ready by that time? But we don’t want Longoria to leave via free agency. Hopefully the Rays will make an exception for Longoria and sign him to a long-term deal that keeps him in a Rays uniform for his entire career. Good thing Goeddel has the speed to play second base if necessary.
Tyler Goeddel is a quite a while away from making a big league impact in a Rays uniform even if everything goes perfectly. But get excited- Tyler Goeddel has ability to be as good as any player the Rays have even produced from their farm system.