Tyler Goeddel was getting rave reviews from people around baseball even before the Phillies took him with the first overall pick in December's Rule 5 Draft. It was almost a foregone conclusion at the Winter Meetings that Goeddel would be taken by somebody, the only question was "who?" The Phillies quickly put that question to rest and the early returns on Goeddel are all good.
On Friday, Goeddel's two-run double was part of a 12-run outburst by the Phillies offense in a 12-11 win over the Atlanta Braves. Later in the game, Goeddel was pulled after being hit in the helmet by a pitch, but was checked out and passed all of the concussion testing. Removing him from the game was purely precautionary and he's been completely cleared to continue playing.
"It was just a curveball to the head," Goeddel told Greg Murphy of Comcast SportsNet [CSN]. "They just wanted to make sure everything was all fine. Everything checked out and I'm good to go."
Friday's big hit came in Goeddel's first opportunity to play in front of manager Pete Mackanin, who was anxious to see Goeddel play after hearing good things about him both at the Winter Meetings and after Thursday's split squad game, where Goeddel had two hits against the Yankees, while Mackanin was managing the other squad against the Astros.
"At the Winter Meetings, his name came up quite a bit, and not just from our people in our room," Mackanin told Paul Hagen of MiLB.com. "Friends of mine on different teams mentioned how much they liked him. Scouts that I know told me he was a pretty good looking player, and I heard he looked really good on [Thursday]. This was my first chance to see him and I like him a lot."
Goeddel was award that he was getting his first playing time in front of Mackanin, but he's taking a bigger approach than just impressing the Phillies skipper. He knows that he's got to play hard whenever he's on the field to make not keeping him on the major league roster a non-option for the Phillies.
"I'm just going to work hard and try to follow the veterans on the team, because they've been here before and they know the ins and outs of major league camp and what to do. I'm just going to follow them, work hard and let the people upstairs make the decisions," Goeddel told CSN. "It's an awesome opportunity. It doesn't get any better than having an opportunity to make the big league team. It's definitely a great opportunity and I'm going to try and make the most of it."
The Phillies must keep Goeddel on the major league roster all season or offer him back to Tampa Bay and put him through waivers before they could send him to the minors. It's not likely that he would pass through waivers or that the Rays would not want him back. The only other option, besides keeping him on the roster, would be to work out a trade with Tampa Bay.
The 23-year old outfielder had his best minor league season in 2015 with Tampa Bay's Double-A Montgomery Biscuits, but was still left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft. Goeddel set career highs in games (123), runs (68), home runs (12), RBI (72), average (.279), on-base percentage (.350) and slugging (.433). He's never played above the Double-A level, but neither had Herrera when the Phillies took him in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft.
"I feel like I can do a little bit of everything, I can hit, I can run, play some defense, it's a matter of me putting everything together. I think last year, I did a good job of doing that and I feel like I can build off of that this year."
Another Phillies outfielder, Aaron Altherr also left Friday's game after jamming his wrist making a diving catch in the outfield. The injury came on the first play of the game when former Phillies Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte hit a line drive to right that Altherr had to go into an all-out dive to catch. Mackanin said after the game that they would have to wait for x-rays and see how Altherr felt before determining the extent of the injury.
Ryan Howard also left the game with flu-like symptoms. The flu has been circulating through the Phillies clubhouse.