This is the first article in what will be a regular feature on Fridays. Every Friday, I will look at a a Diamondbacks minor league prospect, and go over that prospect's history and statistical track record. My focus with these articles is to get everyone more acquainted with the prospects in the Diamondbacks farm system. I'm always open to suggestions for prospects to cover, but in general, I will avoid prospects that have a season or less of time in the minors.
The first prospect I've chosen to go over is Paul Goldschmidt. I know he's received a lot of press, but I had this article finished for the most part before I came back to the Snakepit. I've just re-purposed it for you guys.
After the jump, I'm going to go over Goldschmidt's statistical track record and history as a prospect, going all the way back to his days in college.For those of you who are unaware of just how good Paul "Goldy" Goldschmidt has been, shame on you and get out from under that rock. Goldschmidt is a well built guy, listed at 6'3 and 245 lbs. As you'll read on, he has a tremendous amount of power, that is very legit. He hits with authority, for average and for power. Defensively he's limited to first base, but he's more than adequate there.
Goldschmidt was actually drafted out of high school by the Dodgers in the 49th round of the 2006 draft, but fortunately for us, he elected not to sign, and went to college at Texas State University.
Paul Goldschmidt was an excellent hitter for Texas State University. His freshman year he wasn't an everyday player, but he did receive 139 at bats. He hit for average, but his trademark power hadn't come yet, and he hit .338/.422/.388, with four doubles and a home run. He had a decent 18:30 BB:K ratio.
Goldy became the player we know who hits for average and power once he became an everyday player for Texas State. In 228 at bats, Goldy hit an impressive .360/.447/.689 with 20 doubles, 2 triples, and 17 HRs. His BB:K ratio improved to 37:38.
Goldy hit just as well his final year at Texas State, but set a school record for home runs. In 219 at bats, he hit .352/.487/.685 with 19 double and 18 HRs. His BB:K ratio was even better, as he drew more walks (54) than strikeouts (29).
After a successful athletic career with the Texas State Bobcats, Goldy entered the 2009 Major League Baseball Amateur Player Draft , and was selected by the Diamondbacks in the 8th round. He was drafted so far down in the draft due to concerns about his ability to hit and his defense. There were questions of wither or not he would be able to transition to wooden bats, and if his hitting ability was a product of the combination of aluminum bats and the hot Texas climate. Since then, he's proven that clearly, his hitting in college was not a fluke.
After signing with the Diamondbacks, Goldy was assigned to the Diamondbacks' rookie ball affiliate, the Missoula Ospreys. In his debut professional season in the Pioneer League,, Goldschmidt started to prove the doubters wrong, when he hit .334/.408/.638 with a 18 home runs, 3 triples, and 27 doubles in 287 at-bats. In addition he knocked in 62 RBI. He led the league in home runs and Isolated Slugging Percentage (ISO). His .449 wOBA, a weighted offensive statistic, made him the third most valuable hitter in the Pioneer League that year. Goldschmidt hit extremely well, but there were a lot of skeptics, including myself. Although he was walking at a decent 10.9 percent rate, he was also striking out in 25 percent of his at bats. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was another concern, at .49. As an advanced college hitter in rookie ball, you're expected to mash the ball. And of course, there's that small sample size caveat.
In 2010, Goldschmidt was assigned to Visalia, the Diamondback's HI-A affliate in the California League, which is an extremely hitting friendly environment. With a full season's worth of at-bats, Goldschmidt proceeded to destroy the opposition, to the tune of .314/.384/.606 with 42 doubles, 3 triples, and 35 home runs. Some red flags remained; his K rate actually went up to 30.7 percent, and he was second in the league in strike-outs. His strikeout-walk ratio fell to .35. However there were a lot more positives than negatives, and Goldschmidt lead the league in wOBA(.424), wRC+(153), ISO(.291), OPS (.990), SLG%, 2B and HRs.
Despite this, it seems like Goldy was underrated by just about everyone going into this year. He barely cracked the top 10 of most prospect lists, if at all. Goldschmidt started catching the casual fan's, as well as most prospect experts', attention this year in Spring Training by going 10-24 with 4 doubles and 2 homers, including a ninth-inning three-run shot, to tie the first ever game at Salt River Fields. Goldschmidt proved he could handle quality pitching, and turned a lot of heads. After spring training, Goldie was assigned to the Mobile Baybears, the Diamondbacks AA level affiliate in the pitcher friendly Southern League.
Goldschmidt has been a revelation this year, and in 315 at-bats he's hitting .311/.432/.629 with 18 doubles, 2 triples, 26 home run, and 81 RBIs. He has improved every facet of his game this season, and even addressed the big red flags in his statistics. He's brought his walk rate up from 9.5% to 16.6%, and brought his K rate down from 30.7% to 18.9%. He's raised his Isolated slugging percentage from .291 to .315 while going from a hitter's paradise to a predominately more pitching friendly league.
Goldschmidt has a Nintendo-esque line against left handers: .369/495/.845 with 5 doubles, a triple, and 11 home runs coming in 79 at bats. In addition, he has a 13:21 strikeout-to-walk ratio against left handers.
Goldschmidt has been the most valuable player in his league, no matter how you measure him statistically. His wOBA of .452 is tops in the Southern League, as is his 177 wRC+. Goldie's 26 HRs is 9 more than Luke Montz, who is second in the league in HRs with 17. He also leads the Southern League in RBIs, On-base-percentage and slugging percentage.
Once you extrapolate Goldschmidt's numbers into a full seasons' worth of at-bats, you get some mind boggling numbers: If he had roughly 570 at bats (a full season's worth of at-bats), he'd hit 33 doubles and 50 homers. That's a heck of lot of home runs no matter where you go, but when you're in AA, and in the pitching friendly Southern League, it's an even bigger number.
At this point, Paul Goldschmidt doesn't have a lot left to prove. If he were sent to AAA Reno, the Pacific Coast League is the opposite of the Southern League. It's a league dominated by parks with climates and altitudes that make the ball fly, no matter who you are. Send a guy who's already smacking the ball around there, and you're going to give him even less of a challenge.
According to Kevin Towers, we (i.e. everyone who ‘s heard of Goldy) aren't the only ones who are clamoring for a call up of Goldschmidt; Kirk Gibson apparently asks KT everyday when he's going to be brought up. Towers has also been on record as saying that Goldschmidt should be promoted to the bigs before the end of the year.
It has been a long time since D-backs fans have seen a hitting prospect develop through their farm system like Goldschmidt. Chris Young was almost fully-fledged when he arrived, and Justin Upton hit the majors barely 18 months after being signed. You might have to go back as far as Carlos Quentin to find a player whose arrival in the majors was as hotly-anticipated at Paul's, While there are never any guarantees, if the Diamondbacks are to contend in the next few seasons, it seems likely Goldschmidt will be a key component in any success.