On the Beat: Chris Goff

The Fort Wayne TinCaps were arguably the best story in the Padres’ Minor League chain in 2015. After a 10-22 start, Fort Wayne bounced back to win the Eastern Division of the Midwest League, with a record of 77-61. Fort Wayne also featured some of the best talent in the system, headlined by the presence of outfielder Michael Gettys, shortstop Ruddy Giron and outfielder Nick Torres.

Chris Goff covers the TinCaps for the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, and along with Felix Chavez of the El Paso Times was one of only two newspaper reporters that covered one of the Padres' affiliates during the 2015 season.

As with last year, Chris was nice enough to take some time to give us his thoughts of what he saw this summer.

The TinCaps got off to a terrible start, what moment or event seemed to turn around the season?
Chris Goff: The turnaround began on May 21. The TinCaps were on the verge of losing for the ninth time in their last 11 games, but they rallied from a 5-3 deficit after eight innings, and beat Lake County in the 14th, 9-5. It was Duanel Jones who saved the game with a two-run shot in the top of the ninth, after which the Fort Wayne bullpen pitched six scoreless innings to give the offense time to win it. Edwin Moreno got that done with an RBI single. Brandon Fry got the win. It was a great game. And it served as something of a metaphor for the entire season.

After a 10-22 start that dumped them 9½ games behind in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division on May 15, the TinCaps went 67-39. In the 67-39 stretch, Fort Wayne’s bullpen ERA was 2.23.

We chose Nick Torres as our player of the year. Who would be your choice and why?
Chris Goff: All-Star Thomas Dorminy wasn’t available to start in the playoffs because, after making a start Aug. 27, he was away from the team until Labor Day. His sister died. But the TinCaps went 18-7 in games Dorminy started even though they gave him an average of 3.6 runs of support per start. Fort Wayne averaged 4.1 runs per game overall.

Dorminy allowed three or fewer earned runs in 21 of 25 starts, and it was pretty obvious what he meant to the team. He was an ace. His 2.94 ERA this year was the 11th-lowest among Midwest League ERA qualifiers. Dorminy went 6-2 over his last 12 starts and had a 1.59 ERA in the second half of the season. He allowed no home runs during that stretch (73 2/3 innings).

I have no problem with Torres as Fort Wayne’s player of the year, other than the fact he was basically there only half the season before his promotion. That’s why I diverge.

What are your impressions on Ruddy Giron? Was his slump at the end of the season just fatigue, or do you think he played over his head?
Chris Goff: Giron’s OPS in his first 34 games was 1.044, which is a number that nearly matches Barry Bonds’ career OPS in the big leagues (1.051). So in many ways, Giron’s decline was a regression to the mean that should have been expected. Giron’s good, but he isn’t quite that good.

Young everyday position players can wear down if they play 120-something games. Giron played in 96. Maybe he wore down a bit, but I look more at Giron’s pronounced splits – he batted .248 with a .655 OPS against righties compared with .440 with a 1.102 OPS against lefties. And 25 of those 75 precious at-bats Giron had against lefties came in his first three weeks in the league.

If you saw Giron, there’s little doubt he’s something special. The confidence is obvious. Virtually no one his age would be able to do the things he did this season.

We chose Dinelson Lamet as our pitcher of the year. Who would be your choice?
Chris Goff: Having tabbed Dorminy before, I’ll go a different route with this answer. Lamet undoubtedly was the best pitching prospect to play for Fort Wayne in 2015. But I would be remiss if I went through this Q-and-A without mentioning Colby Blueberg. Blueberg (1.04 ERA in 41 appearances) was a lockdown guy in the ninth inning. He had a tremendous year. He saved 21 games. He had a 21-inning stretch in which he allowed no runs and struck out 23. He does the job in big pressure situations.

Are there any players that could be sleepers on the roster?
Chris Goff: Yimmi Brasoban had great success as a reliever against right-handed batters: a .168 batting average against. He saved 10 games this year and had a 2.26 ERA. His stuff is terrific. He also averaged a strikeout per inning, walking 25 and allowing 52 hits in 71 2/3 innings. You certainly could see him contributing in the majors at the back end of somebody’s bullpen, but I’m enough of a Brasoban fan that I could also envision him achieving long-term success as a starter, if given another crack. He’s 21 years old.

Kyle McGrath had a particularly good year, too, Jose Ruiz showed off his cannon throwing out runners, and the real sleeper is probably Edwin Moreno. He quietly had a pretty good season in a part-time role. His OPS was .793.

What were your impressions of Michael Gettys?
Chris Goff: Gettys is an emotional player. He can get down on himself, but the ability to shrug off a poor at-bat will come eventually. With a 162/28 strikeout-to-walk ratio, it might appear that Gettys is a wild swinger. But he’s not a complete hacker, and he’s only 750 plate appearances removed from high school, so the pitch recognition will improve. In fact, there were times he needed to protect the plate better.

With reporters, Gettys is usually very honest and accountable. And he made a big difference for the TinCaps with his defensive prowess and strong throwing arm in center field. His range out there is impressive.

Can you give us a scouting report on LHP Thomas Dorminy?
Chris Goff: He locates his fastball well, works the inside part of the plate well and has a nice breaking ball and change-up. Dorminy allowed just 125 hits in 141 innings for a sparkling .238 batting average allowed, which was third-best among Midwest League starters. If nothing else, he will not beat himself. Dorminy throws in the low-90s. To underestimate him as a result would be a mistake. He is respected for his tenacity and nerves of steel. Sometimes, a pitcher will allow a bloop hit and get too distracted by the misfortunate. I never saw any of that with Dorminy. He’s 23 already, but more unlikely candidates than Dorminy have become a No. 4 starter type in the majors.

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