Mets Sign 24th Rounder Erik Goeddel

Aaron Fitt of Baseball America has reported that the Mets have agreed to terms with 24th-round pick Erik Goeddel on a contract with a reported $500,000 signing bonus. Goeddel was the most interesting pitcher the Mets grabbed during the draft, but I didn’t think there was a chance at all he’d sign. The Mets don’t have a great track record in this regard, but they do sign one or two of these guys a year: think Kyle Allen in 2008 and Zach Dotson in 2009. But more importantly I also didn’t think there was a realistic sum the Mets could offer that would make it worth Goeddel’s while: a big season in UCLA’s rotation in 2011 could make him a first-round pick and grant him a seven-figure bonus. Of course, a poor season might have pushed him back down in the round 5-10 range with little leverage. So the two sides met in the middle.

Goeddel was a redshirt sophomore in 2010, but it was really his first year pitching in college ball thanks to an elbow injury at the end of his senior year in high school that wound up costing him two years. He returned late in 2009, but ran into elbow soreness after just one appearance on the Cape and had to be shut down. UCLA decided to ease him into the swing of things by making him a reliever with plans to make him a weekend starter during his junior season. He pitched pretty well this season, striking out more than a batter per inning with decent control. Goeddel has decent size at 6-3, 180 pounds, but I wouldn’t expect much projection. The frame is narrow, and I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of room for him to get stronger. He was typically throwing 90-94 this season but had crept up to the mid-90s during the College World Series. He also showed a harder slider than I had previously seen—he used to throw a slower curve that wasn’t as impressive to me, but the slider works better with his three quarters arm slot. The arm slot also gives his heater a little bit of sink, though I haven’t seen a ground ball rate for him.

Here’s the big question: how do you use Goeddel? UCLA used him as a reliever, and he was pretty impressive there. His velocity was higher than it had ever been as a starter, where he typically threw 89-92 in high school, touching 93. But Goeddel planned to switch to starting, and the sinking fastball and easy arm action do indicate it could be a fair landing spot for him. But as a starter he will take more time and has more bust potential. The velocity might revert from above average to average, the slider might not be effective against southpaws, there’s no changeup to speak of, and he does have a timing issue in his delivery that might give him health trouble down the road (if it’s not cleared up), especially troublesome for a guy who already has an injury history. I can see the arguments for both roles. So much so that I’m not a hundred percent sure what I’d do if I were in the Mets’ place.

But regardless of their plans for Goeddel, it is nice to see the Mets take a chance on an iffy prospect, just as I was glad when they signed Dotson and Allen. It’s only money after all, and not a tremendous price to pay for a flier on someone who could be pretty effective in the next couple years.

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