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Hunter Goodman’s incredible season has him emerging as an unsung prospect

Colorado Rockies news and links for Thursday, September 8th, 2022

First baseman Michael Toglia is in the majors. Shortstop Ezequiel Tovar might still potentially make his big league debut in September. Adael Amador and Yanquiel Fernandez have turned heads in their first minor league seasons with the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies. Fresh faces like Sterlin Thompson and Jordan Beck have emerged from this year’s draft. In the waning days of the 2022 season, the news is abuzz with information about the top prospects of the Colorado Rockies.

However, there is one Rockies prospect I feel to be slipping under the radar much more than he should be, and that’s 22-year old catcher Hunter Goodman.

Hunter Goodman had a strong three-year collegiate career with the University of Memphis Tigers where he put up a career line of .323/.328/.638. He hit 42 home runs over those three seasons with 149 RsBI and stole 22 bases. He hit 21 home runs during his 2021 junior season, after which he was drafted in that year’s MLB Amateur Draft.

The Rockies selected Goodman in the fourth found of the 2021 draft, from which he joined the Arizona Complex League Rockies and put up very solid numbers. In 22 games with the ACL Rockies he slashed .300/.419/.517 with two home runs and seven doubles. Goodman would start the 2022 season with the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies, replacing fellow catching prospect Drew Romo as he headed to High-A Spokane. Like the aforementioned Amador and Fernandez, Goodman would be playing his first true minor league season in 2022 with the Grizzlies. Unlike Amador and Fernandez—both of whom are several years younger—Goodman has rocketed up the Rockies minor league system at an extreme speeds.

Goodman kicked off his season by demolishing the ball in Low-A. His 22 home runs not only still leads the Grizzlies, but it also still stands as the high mark in the California League... which Goodman has been out of for two months. He was promoted to the High-A Spokane Indians in early July. Here is what I said about him at the time:

proved he was ready to move up by absolutely crushing the ball every chance he got with Low-A Fresno. Goodman slashed an absolutely excellent .291/.368/.592 with a California League leading 22 home runs. Goodman played corner outfield in addition to catcher and first base in college at Memphis, but hasn’t logged any outfield reps in his professional career. He made 48 appearances at first base with Fresno and 24 appearances at catcher. Goodman has the raw power of a bat-first prospect with solid enough speed on the bases for four steals in Fresno. His defense needs work—especially behind the plate—but he has been putting in the time to make improvements with Jerry Weinstein in his corner. He reminds me very favorably of Daulton Varsho of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Since moving to High-A, Goodman has done nothing but continue to impress and build upon the success that earned him the initial promotion. In his first month with the Indians, Goodman hit .285/.318/.455 over 123 at-bats with 10 doubles and one triple. However, he wasn’t displaying the power he had been showing off earlier in Low-A. Through those first 31 games he hit only three home runs. Then in mid-August, the power switch was flipped back on. From August 17th through August 26th, Hunter Goodman played nine games and hit a home run in eight of them. Goodman would end the month of August on top, being named the Northwest League’s player of the month after a league-leading 10 home runs and .370 batting average.

Goodman’s efforts over 49 total games in Spokane earned him yet another promotion. After hitting .315/.351/.589 with 12 home runs he was promoted to the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats on September 6th. Goodman has rocketed up the Rockies farm system, finding himself in Double-A in just one minor league season after starting the year in Low-A. This meteoric rise is cause for celebration, yet he remains unsung. Goodman is ranked the Rockies’ no. 23 prospect per MLB Pipeline with many freshly drafted faces ahead of him. In our preseason PuRPs rankings he came in at no. 27, and only moved up to no. 26 in our recent mid-season rankings.

While it’s true that Goodman is behind defensively compared to his fellow catching prospects like Willie MacIver and Drew Romo, he has made improvements with his work behind the plate. In his 2021 season with the ACL Rockies he had four passed balls in just 12 games as catcher. Across 41 total appearances as a backstop in 2022 he has eight passed balls. Taking that number at face value can be a bit deceiving though. Six of those passed balls came over 24 games with Low-A Fresno, which he left in early July. In 17 games catching for High-A Spokane he had just two passed balls and a 1.000 fielding percentage.

Goodman still has to put in some work as he improves his catching, but what makes him appealing defensively is his versatility. Goodman has actually played over 200 more innings as a first baseman across the three levels this season than he has as a catcher while posting a .980 fielding percentage. The Rockies could also explore his outfield experience to expand his versatility and playing time—like they have in putting Michael Toglia in right field—if they choose to move him away from catching.

As a bat-first prospect, Goodman’s improving defense is more than serviceable as he continues to do what he does best: hit the ball. After his strong offensive marks in Fresno and Spokane, Goodman will likely spend what remains of the 2022 season adapting to Double-A ball, where I predict he’ll start next season—depending on spring training results. In five at-bats with the Yard Goats he is still waiting for his first Double-A hit, but it will come sooner rather than later and will likely have a lot of distance on it.

★ ★ ★

Adjustments key for Carlos Estévez in turnaround | Rox Pile

Bullpen arm Carlos Estévez has quietly become one of the Rockies’ better relievers in the second half of the season, and Duane DaPron over at Rox Pile explores the adjustments he went through to make that happen.

“I found a way to go back to what I do, like stay behind the baseball, get my pitches to move the right way that I want them,” Estévez said. “Once I found that, it’s been really good.”

★ ★ ★

On the Farm

Triple-A Game 1: El Paso Chihuahuas 6, Albuquerque Isotopes 2

Brandon Gold gave up four earned runs on three hits and three walks over 1 23 innings to start game one of the Isotopes’ double header. He was relieved by Ty Blach, who pitched for 4 13 innings and gave up two runs on five hits. Joel Peguero wrapped things up for ‘Topes pitching with a scoreless seventh and two strikeouts. Jimmy Herron and Sam Hilliard led the offense with individual 2-for-3 games to make up most of Albuquerque’s seven hits, while Herron and LJ Hatch drove in their two runs.

Triple-A Game 2: El Paso Chihuahuas 7, Albuquerque Isotopes 6

The Isotopes had much more offensive success in game two despite the loss thanks to three home runs hit by Sam Hilliard, Jonathan Morales, and DJ Peterson. Hilliard was the standout with a 2-for-3 game and two RsBI. Ashton Goudeau allowed two earned runs on six hits in a four inning start while Julián Fernández pitched two innings of relief. Fernández did give up an earned run but struck out three batters and issued no walks. Unfortunately a likely Isotopes win was spoiled by a rocky Zach Lee-pitched seventh inning. Lee gave up four earned runs on four hits—including a home run—in 23 innings as the Chihuahuas walked things off.

Double-A Game 1: Somerset Patriots 6, Hartford Yard Goats 2

Mitchell Kilkenny had a tough five inning start to kick off game one of the double header, allowing six earned runs on seven hits with three walks. Two of those hits were home runs. Boby Johnson finished the remaining two innings without giving up a run and striking out three batters. The Yard Goats offense scored just two runs on five hits, both of those runs came off a Grant Lavigne home run in the first inning.

Double-A Game 2: Somerset Patriots 5, Hartford Yard Goats 0

The second game of the double header was a tougher pill to swallow. Patriots pitchers Yoendrys Gomez (five innings) and Steven Jennings (two innings) pitched a combined seven inning no-hitter to blank the Yard Goats. The Yard Goats’ only baserunner was Grant Lavigne, who drew a walk. Will Ethridge took the loss after giving up three earned runs on five hits over four innings, including two home runs. Tony Locey had a difficult inning out of the bullpen, giving up four hits and two earned runs. He did strike out two batters. Austin Kitchen and Dugan Darnell both pitched scoreless innings.

High-A: Spokane Indians 8, Tri-City Dust Devils 3

The only Rockies affiliate victory of the day came via the Spokane Indians and their eight runs. Colin Simpson had a 3-for-5 game with an RBI double while Drew Romo went 2-for-4 with an RBI of his own. Cuba Bess hit his first home run with the Indians by way of a two run shot in the second inning. Anderson Amarista put up a quality start with two runs (one earned) given up over 6 23 innings with five strikeouts. Anderson Bido pitched 1 13 scoreless innings in relief. Raymells Rosa walked two and gave up an earned run in his inning of work.

Low-A: San Jose Giants 9, Fresno Grizzlies 3

Jaden Hill worked as the opener for Fresno over 1 13 innings with one earned run given up on a hit and a walk. He struck out two batters. Cullen Kafka took over and things didn’t go well for him. In four innings he gave up five earned runs on eight hits and walked three batters. Ever Moya gave up one earned run on three hits in his 1 23 innings of work while Sergio Sanchez gave up two earned runs on three hits. The offensive highlights of the game came from Benny Montgomery and Sterlin Thompson. Montgomery went 2-for-4 with a double and Thompson went 2-for-4 and hit his first Low-A home run—a two run shot in the second inning.

★ ★ ★

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