Greg Golson doesn't carry the attitude and swagger that many first round picks do. He's much more content to simply enjoy the game and enjoy being the best possible player that he can be. Whether he knows it or not, the Phillies have been impressed with not just his play, but his attitude and approach to the game. "Greg has a great work ethic," said P.J. Forbes, who will likely have Golson on his Lakewood squad this summer. "He comes in every day ready to go and you can see how much he loves the game."
Golson brought solid credentials with him when he reported for his first professional assignment in the Gulf Coast League last summer. He hit .295 and stole 12 bases, showing all the world that he was ready for the professional ranks. The odds are good that the Phillies will reward his 2004 performance, which is being backed up by a strong showing in minor league camp this spring, with a promotion to full-season Lakewood. "It's what I'm hoping for," said Golson. "I think I can play at that level. I know it won't be easy, but I can do it." Forbes tends to agree. "Greg has the right mind set and all of the natural skills. He's really coming along in his approach to everything that he does."
With spring training heading into its final ten days or so, players will start to fall into their spots for the season. "Right now, Greg is a sponge. He tries to soak up something from every session that he spends with a coach," said Forbes. That commitment and desire to learn is rare among young players and it's something that could set Golson apart. "There are people here with a lot of knowledge and they're willing to help, so why not learn from them?" asked Golson.
The Phillies continue to work with Golson on being more selective at the plate and there is progress. "He's really coming along. You can see that the effort is there and that Golson knows it's something that he has to improve upon," stressed Forbes. The lack of discipline led to 54 strikeouts in 183 at bats for Golson last season. With his considerable speed, the Phillies simply want Golson to put the bat on the ball and make something happen. "With his speed, he puts pressure on guys to make a good play every time that he steps to the plate," said Forbes. If Golson can improve on his discipline, it's likely that his .345 on-base percentage from the Gulf Coast League will improve. That in turn will open the door for more stolen bases and for Golson to make more things happen on the basepaths. Not only does Golson have speed, but he has the knowledge of how to steal bases. In addition to stealing 12 bases in 14 attempts in the GCL, he swiped 33 out of 33 bases that he tried to steal in his last two seasons of high school ball.
The future of center field in Philadelphia is a jumble. There are several candidates to take over the job in the not too distant future. Golson is one of the leading candidates and will likely man the spot for Lakewood. "He'll be our center fielder, but he could play other positions too," said Forbes. "His speed and defensive ability make him a natural for center." Players like Michael Bourn and Chris Roberson - not to mention Marlon Byrd - could have something to say about who plays center field in Philadelphia in the future. One thing is for sure though; Greg Golson has himself in position to make his mark somewhere on the grass of Citizens Bank Park.
Paul Warren contributed to this article.