Adding to the Arsenal

David Goforth was drafted last June. But rather than spending much time thinking of leaving for the pros, the fourth-year junior started getting ready for another season with the Ole Miss Rebels.

The Cleveland Indians gave Goforth a call in the 31st round. His teammate, Drew Pomeranz, had been drafted by the same organization in the first round as the fifth pick.

But Goforth chose to remain at Ole Miss and worked to correct some pitching woes that surfaced often in 2010. Namely, he had trouble getting guys out. A lot of their hits were out of the park.

The Neshoba Central product added a cutter to his arsenal and worked to improve all his pitching skills throughout the summer. He had a productive fall and was second to Matt Crouse on the team in ERA at 2.37.

Goforth said he enters January a confident pitcher, despite the fact that some might view it otherwise given last spring.

"This fall was big for me, and actually so was the summer," Goforth said. "Taking a little time off and getting away from it a little bit, then starting back up before I came to school (in August) and working on some new things, it was all beneficial for me. This fall was huge for me as far as getting the confidence back. Pitching the way I did this fall and having some success helped me to do that."

The 5-foot-11, 191-pounder pitched 19 innings of fall ball, allowing just five earned runs on 16 hits with 19 strikeouts and only four walks. Goforth knows he has to take that into January practices and into the season if he is to have success and help the team.

"I know I still have to put it together in the spring," he said. "Right now I feel good, and I'm confident heading into everything."

Goforth added his new pitch and believes it could be a real positive for him on the mound.

"I started working with the cutter this summer, got used to it, and brought it out in the fall," he said. "It was almost unhittable. I don't think very many guys made good contact on it. I talked to a lot of the hitters in the fall who said it was really hard to pick up because of the late break and it looks like a fast ball. So that pitch came along better than expected. I haven't completely got it down 100 percent yet, but I think it will be a big difference maker for me this year."

He admits he was limited before.

"In the past basically I had three pitches. I was fast ball and slider mainly. I had a changeup that was OK. But last season it was still kind of a work in progress. I didn't throw it much in games. I was basically a two-pitch guy with a fast ball/slider. My slider was average. It wasn't great. I really wanted to add another pitch that could help me become more competitive."

He admits he is no Scott Bittle when it comes to the cutter. But who is, right?

"His was more of a curve ball. I don't know what he threw," said Goforth, laughing a bit. "He threw it and it did what it did. If mine gets to be that effective, then I'll be surprised. That's some pretty high standards to try to live up to."

Goforth said he's pleased he's learned to use it so effectively so quickly.

"Honestly it's kind of an easy pitch to control. It doesn't have much break. And I throw it pretty hard. It's almost like a fast ball in that sense. It's easier to control than a big breaking ball or a slider or something like that that's breaking out of the zone. Sometimes I throw it and it will stay straight. That's what I'm talking about not having it 100 percent yet. "

Goforth admitted he and the other pitchers like the new NCAA-mandated bats which seem to keep the balls in the park more often.

"Absolutely. It's definitely going to turn into a pitcher's game. The home runs some of the guys hit that just bleed over the fence will be routine pop-ups now. Every pitcher should be ready to go on the mound now. If (hitters) barrel the ball up, get a good swing off, and hit it good, it will be the same. The difference is if you can get in on their hands a little bit, throwing more fast balls in, even throwing more breaking balls away where they miss it a little bit, those are going to be routine outs now. I think it should be an advantage for the pitchers."

It's a pitching staff Goforth is impressed with this year.

"This my fourth year, and this may be the deepest pitching staff we've had. My freshman year with Lance (Lynn) and (Cody) Satterwhite, (Scott) Bittle, Jake Morgan, and (Brett) Bukvich, that was a great staff, too. This year I think we can match the talent level and the depth of even that team. We may not have the one big-name guy like Drew last year. But we're as deep as we've ever been and got guys that bring a little bit of everything to the table. I think we'll have a good year on the mound."

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