One year ago Tyler Goeddel was playing high school baseball in Hillsborough, CA. This year, at the age of 19, Goeddel is playing third base for the Low-A Bowling Green Hot Rods after making his professional debut in April.
"It's crazy to think about," said Goeddel about his quick transition from prep to pro baseball in a recent phone interview.
But age is a nonfactor for Goeddel. He views his young age as a challenge instead of a disadvantage. Goeddel says he has fun playing with older guys and has been doing it for most of his life.
"I'm just one of the guys," Goeddel said. "I focus on playing hard everyday."
Hot Rods manager Brady Williams also views the 19-year-old Goeddel as just one of the guys.
"He's a very mature young man on and off the field," said Williams about his young third baseman.
One of the perks of playing professional baseball according to Goeddel is having no schoolwork to worry about.
"It's so much easier to get better," Goeddel said. "Everything's about baseball."
The six-foot-four, 180-pound, third baseman originally committed to UCLA before being drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays with the 41st pick in last year's draft. He was the 89th overall prospect, according to Baseball America, going into the draft.
Goeddel has impressed early at the plate for the Hot Rods. At only 180-pounds, Goeddel has plenty of room to grow, but is already producing solid numbers. He is currently tied for second on the team in home runs with 4, only one behind the Hot Rods' leaders, Jeff Malm and Josh Sale.
Goeddel used much of the offseason to work on his swing.
"I have been working on a quicker swing and staying back," Goeddel said. "I'm confident at the plate."
The young third sacker is hitting .260/.331/.412 with 19 RBI in 131 at-bats this season. Goeddel's RBI total is good enough for second on the team. Williams has been happy with Goeddel's performance at the plate but also acknowledges he's had his ups and downs.
"His offense had been good and bad," Williams said.
Goeddel has been in a slight slump as of late, but his only standout weakness on the stat sheet is his number of strikeouts. He has the third most strikeouts, 40, on the Hot Rods.
"I've been in a slump lately, but my swing feels good," Goeddel insisted.
One surprising strength the 19-year-old has going for him is his speed. Goeddel is second on the team behind Ryan Brett in the stolen base column. He currently has ten steals and has only been caught stealing once.
"Goeddel's baserunning has been outstanding," Williams said.
Possessing raw power and speed at such a young age, makes Goeddel an extremely enticing prospect in the Rays organization. He was recently ranked number 10 on the Rays Digest Top 50 Prospects list.
Goeddel's major weakness this season has been his play in the field. In 40 games this season, Goeddel has seven errors, just one behind shortstop Jake Hager. With 31 putouts and 71 assists Goeddel has a fielding percentage of .936.
Goeddel says he has been working on some technique issues and bad habits.
Williams doesn't view Goeddel's defense to be a problem. He says that no one is expected to have zero errors. Williams believes Goeddel has good hands and a good arm and thinks he has played a very good third base this season.
"Goeddel needs to keep taking more ground balls so he is not surprised when balls are hit to him," Williams said.
"I've improved a lot," Goeddel said. "I feel confident."
Austin Nichols is the Bowling Green beat writer for Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @Nichols_HotRods.
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