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Colorado Rockies prospects: No. 16, Hunter Goodman

The outfielder/first baseman/DH/catcher made his MLB debut in 2023, just two years after being drafted

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16. Hunter Goodman (348 points, 22 ballots)

Goodman wasn’t supposed to be in the big-league picture in 2023, but his offensive performance in the upper minors made him hard for the Rockies to ignore. The 24-year-old corner outfielder/first baseman/DH/catcher (based on playing time in 2023, in that order) possesses excellent raw power from the right-handed batter’s box that he’s been able to get into games (he hit 35 homers among his 72 extra-base hits across three levels in 2023). The ability to at least fake it at catcher also provides Goodman’s profile a bit of extra juice, though it’s unlikely he ends up behind the plate much at the big-league level.

Goodman jumped from Low-A all the way to Double-A in 2022, and he returned to Hartford to begin 2023, where he was 0.7 years younger than league average. In 400 PA, Goodman hit .239/.325/.523 with 25 homers and 24 doubles (125 wRC+) while walking in 10% of PA and striking out in 24.5% (41% Three True Outcome), a mix a prospect can get away with when they are striking the ball with authority. That line included an excellent 1.118 OPS against lefties (.782 vs. right-handers).

The Rockies promoted Goodman in early August to Triple-A Albuquerque, where he was 3.6 years younger than league average. Against that upper-level pitching (and friendly hitting environment) in a 67 PA sample, Goodman continued to hit for power. He had nine homers and six doubles en route to an insane .371/.418/.903 line (200 wRC+).

That kind of offense, even in Albuquerque, meant the Rockies accelerated Goodman’s timeline into a late August big-league debut. Goodman went 2-for-4 with a RBI in his debut and had another multi-hit game the next day, though he didn’t quite fit his footing against big-league pitching after that. In 70 PA with the Rockies, Goodman hit .200/.247/.386 with one homer among his eight extra base hits (48 wRC+, -0.4 rWAR). With that said, Goodman was in the big leagues just two years after getting drafted and showed he could drive the ball when he was able to connect (31% strikeouts in MLB).

Defensively, Goodman spent the plurality of his games at first base (39), with left field (31) and DH (28) close behind, then right field (14) and catcher (13). With that said, almost all of his time for the Rockies was split between right field and first base. He had eight errors on the season: five in left, two at first, and one at catcher, throwing out 21% of would-be base thieves.

Here’s some of Goodman’s many 2023 highlights: places Goodman 12th in the system as a 45 FV player:

The ball comes off of Goodman’s bat with a different sound, and the right-handed hitter showed he can access his tremendous power. It’s a power-over-hit approach with a longer swing and leverage, and there’s always going to be some swing-and-miss to his game — he struck out in over 26 percent of his plate appearances last year. Focusing on using the whole field and not being as pull-happy as he has been at times would help him be a more complete hitter.

It’s unclear where Goodman will play defensively long term. The Rockies saw a lot of improvement behind the plate, and he’ll continue to work on his craft there with new catching coordinator Dustin Garneau. He saw a lot of time at first base in 2022, and he looked comfortable in left field — he played the outfield corners at Memphis — during instructs, with the Rockies looking for ways to get his bat into the lineup.

Fangraphs slots Goodman 8th in the system with a 40+ Future Value tag, with tools highlighted by a plus-plus (70) raw power grade (and 60 future game power):

A heavy-handed receiver with mobility issues, Goodman wasn’t likely to stay behind the plate [when he was drafted] and lots of teams viewed him as a first base prospect with a 40-grade hit tool. He’s continued to catch on occasion but is now mostly playing a combination of first base and left field. There is probably a subset of pitchers who Goodman could catch, pitchers whose stuff doesn’t finish in the dirt. Asking him to smother chase-inducing breaking balls is a bridge too far, though. He also likely isn’t an everyday left fielder or first baseman because he isn’t an especially good defender at those spots either, but as a multi-positional power hitter who you hide at a few different positions, he’s going to be a damn good role player. Goodman has some of the best power in the minors, approaching 70-grade raw. He’s more apt to get to that power against breaking balls that catch the plate than any other pitch type, and I expect big league pitchers will try to blow velocity past him at the letters, where he tends to expand the zone. There’s enough playable power here for Goodman to be a good role player even though he’s a 30 defender whose hit tool will probably also be well below average.

Keith Law of the Athletic ranked Goodman 16th in the system in February 2023:

Goodman has some of the best power in the organization, hitting 36 homers across three levels last year, but it’s power over hit and he strikes out too much to project as a regular. He might have a chance for that if he caught well enough to be a regular back there, but he’s more suited to part-time work and the Rockies have tried him at first to give him another path to the majors.

Goodman is a bat-first prospect, there’s not much doubt about that. It’s good then that he has the offensive ceiling to be a contributor at first base, corner outfield, backup catcher, or DH in at least a platoon capacity (he had a .846 OPS against big league lefties) and maybe more. He’s likely going to fit somewhere on the Opening Day roster, though it’s unclear where he’ll play regularly as of now — maybe splitting time with Sean Bouchard in right field.

Goodman’s high-strikeout, low-walk tendencies became even more pronounced in the Show, but his ability to get his raw power into games is a critical point in his favor as a prospect. The catcher utility is also a help, even if it’s only in a part-time role, but right-handed power like Goodman possesses plays at any position if he can limit those strikeouts to a manageable level. Michael Toglia has a similar power-over-hit profile with better defensive utility (and as a switch-hitter) but has struck out at a higher percentage than Goodman with less of his raw power translating to games.

Goodman is a 40+ FV player for me, 13th on my list, because of the swing and miss in his game and likely 1B/DH defensive fallback. I’m excited about seeing what a player with his power can do in Coors Field (even as a platoon bat) with more playing time.