RC profiles Jason Godin

RC was in Idaho last week, and we got a good look at several of the more impressive pitching prospects in the Royals' low minors. Perhaps none, however, was more intriguing than Jason Godin. After an excellent junior season at Old Dominion University, Godin was selected by the Royals in the fifth round of the 2006 draft.

At 6'5", 170 lbs., the 21-year-old righty still has some filling out to do, but he throws on a good downhill plane and has excellent command of three pitches: a fastball that usually runs in the low-90s, a sharp curveball in the mid-70s, and a slider in the mid-80s.

"The curveball is usually my out pitch," Godin said in an interview with RC. "When I'm behind and I have to throw something for a strike, I can throw that most of the time consistently for strikes. That, along with my slider -- which I developed this year at school -- have been big pitches for me all year."

Godin is also working on developing a change-up, and although he still has a way to go before it becomes a consistently solid pitch, RC did see him throw a couple of quality change-ups for strikes in his outing on August 19.

"The changeup is something I definitely need to work on," said Godin. "[The Royals] said as I move up, it should probably become one of the best pitches I have. Right now, it's a good pitch, but I don't have really good command of it just yet. Hopefully in the near future, and at instructs, I can develop it a little more and be able to throw it consistently for strikes."

When the collegiate season began this spring, Godin was low on most scouts' radar. His numbers prior to 2006 had been sub-par, and he missed the entire 2005 season following surgery on his vertebrae. However, the addition of a quality slider, along with a string of early dominant performances, quickly vaulted him on several organizations' draft boards. Godin came back this season with his expanded repertoire and posted some dominant numbers, leading the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) with 146 strikeouts in 115.1 innings pitched. He made 15 starts, going 8-3 with an ERA of 4.06, and he established himself as one of the most dominant pitchers in the conference.

Godin also had the advantage of pitching on the same staff at ODU as Tigers' phenom Justin Verlander for the first two years of his collegiate career. Verlander, who was drafted by the Tigers with the second overall pick in 2004, vaulted to the Major Leagues this year and is a good bet to win this year's AL Rookie of the Year Award.

"[Verlander] and I actually combined to strike out the most batters in one game," said Godin, referring to a game vs. George Mason in March 2003, in which he and Verlander combined to strike out 19 batters in an extra-inning loss. This spring, Godin actually broke Verlander's single game strikeout record, when he fanned 18 Northeastern batters in a complete game shutout.

"When I did it, I really didn't know that I broke the record, but [Verlander's] a great guy to follow, and hopefully I can get on the same path that he's on."

Indeed, Godin asserts that much of what he learned about pitching came from Verlander, who led the young pitchers on the ODU staff by example.

"I learned how to take care of myself on and off the field, and how to carry myself. He did a great job of showing all of our young pitchers the right way to do things. He was always the hardest worker, the fastest guy, and he was one of the most athletic baseball players that I've ever seen. Just trying to be like him and try to do everything the same way he did helped me become the pitcher that I am today."

After signing this summer, Godin took his act to the Royals' rookie league affiliate in Idaho Falls. As for the jump to professional baseball, Godin is still getting used to the adjustments he has to make in order to become a successful pitcher.

"There's definitely a huge difference," said Godin. "The strike zone is a lot smaller, and the hitters are a lot better. If you make a mistake anywhere in the zone, they'll get a big hit on it."

His numbers thus far have been very good. In six appearances for Idaho Falls spanning 21.2 IP, he's allowed 23 hits and eight walks while compiling an ERA of 2.49. Opponents are hitting .288 against Godin, who said he still needs to learn to pitch inside more effectively.

"Probably the hardest part is that you've got to work inside more here," said Godin. "In college you could mostly work on the outside of the plate, but now, you have to go inside because these hitters can hit the outside pitch, and they can hit it a long way."

One thing that's making his adjustment to pro ball easier is the presence of teammate Harold Mozingo, who was the ace of ODU rival Virginia Commonwealth University's pitching staff. Despite the bitter rivalry between the two schools, Godin and Mozingo have become good friends.

"Coming from rival schools and then coming here and being teammates is a little different at first," said Godin. "But he's a great guy, and it kind of makes me feel at home having somebody else from Virginia, and somebody I played against for the past three years."

Since Godin threw so many innings this spring, the Royals are being very cautious with him. After four appearances, the Royals shut him down for a month to rest what was described as a tired arm. However, Godin made his return to the rotation on August 19, and he told us that the Royals plan to keep him on a regular five-day throwing schedule for the remainder of the season, as long as he stays healthy.

"The tired arm was from too much throwing in college, and then coming here and getting on the throwing program. They gave me a little bit of a break, and so far it's feeling good."

Since his return, Godin has made two appearances on tight pitch counts, tossing a total of five innings while allowing just one earned run. In the outing we saw vs. Helena last week, he allowed one hit and one earned run in two innings while striking out three. He's got an easy, smooth delivery, and even though he was pitching for the first time in a month, we saw him throw and display command of several outstanding curveballs.

Godin will be an interesting player to watch, and if he does ultimately develop a quality change-up, he could have command of four above average pitches as he moves through the minor leagues. Idaho Falls is still a long way from Kansas City, but Godin is definitely worthy of being listed among the Royals' top pitching prospects in the low minors.

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