Hunter Goodman hit 22 home runs in 73 games with Low-A Fresno this season before his promotion on Wednesday to Spokane.
“There’s thunder in his bat,” Indians manager Scott Little said on Saturday.
After a slow start with his new club, the fans at Avista Stadium got to see a little bit of that thunder on Sunday, when Goodman almost casually clubbed an offspeed pitch well over the tall wall in straight center field for his first High-A homer as part of a two-hit effort for the day.
After his blazing start at Fresno, Goodman is ready for the new challenge one level up.
“Yeah, I’m really excited,” he said on Saturday. “Low-A was fun. I felt like I was doing pretty well down there. I’m excited to keep things going in High-A.”
The slow start this week – 1 for 12 with eight strikeouts in his first three games – is just part of the adjustment process.
“Oh yeah, I think that has something to do with it,” Goodman said. “Maybe me trying to do a little too much try – just doing too much too soon and not really letting myself trust what I’ve done. I just gotta get back to what I’ve been doing and trust the work I put in.”
Little isn’t worried about Goodman.
“(The level) is not the same,” he said. “He needs to make the adjustments. I’m sure he will. I mean, the kid had a heck of a first half. Those are pretty big numbers, no matter where you’re at.”
Those numbers included a slash line of .291/368/.592 with 17 doubles and 68 RBIs over 321 plate appearances.
Goodman didn’t have an indication from the Colorado Rockies organization this would be the plan this season.
“I didn’t really know,” he said. “Going into the year I was just hoping I could play well (in Fresno) and hopefully get up here and that ended up happening. But I didn’t really know what was gonna happen or even if it was gonna happen, but I’m excited to be here, excited to get going up here.”
First base in Spokane became available when Grant Lavigne was promoted to Double-A Hartford following the Indians walk-off win on July 4, a game in which Lavigne went 3 for 5 to raise his Northwest League leading batting average to .315.
“That’s good,” Goodman said of Lavigne’s promotion. “You love seeing other guys do it too. And yeah, it makes you want to be that guy to be able to do that as well – work hard, keep doing what you’re doing and trust the process and hopefully it will happen to you too.”
Goodman came up as a catcher. The Rockies like to have players adept at multiple positions, so Goodman was given an audition at first base this season and has taken to the new position pretty quickly – without affecting his work at the plate.
“I got to spring training this year, and I was catching and they were like, ‘Hey, we’re going to work you in at first base as well.’ And I was like, ‘OK.’
“If I can be in the lineup more and be able to impact the game more, I’m going to do whatever I can. I’ll catch every now and then. But it’s been good because I think it’s given me the ability being in the lineup a lot more. I’ve enjoyed it so far. Still working over there. It’s still somewhat new, but I feel like I’ve been getting better at it.”
In four games for Spokane, he has two appearances at first, one at catcher and one at designated hitter.
Goodman said his comfort level at the new position is “about 80 percent.”
“There’s some things I need to get better at. And there’s some things I’m still working on. But I’ve gotten a lot better since spring training. But yeah, there’s still a lot of things I need to improve on.”
Goodman was the Rockies’ fourth-round pick, 109 overall, out of Memphis in the 2021 MLB draft. In addition to learning a new position, he’s also acclimating to full-season baseball.
“This is my first year in pro ball. I played a little bit in the Arizona League last year after I got drafted but it’s definitely a lot longer,” Goodman said.
“Right now, we’re probably like 15, 20 games past a college season. I haven’t started feeling it a whole lot yet, but you can definitely tell that it gets a little more tiring and you get a little more monotonous. But you just got to keep having fun and enjoy it and take care of your body a little better than you did in college or in high school.”
Following his impressive showing during his brief debut in the Arizona Complex League and the instructional league last year, Goodman was ranked No. 20 among Rockies prospects by MLB.com.
“I try not to (think about rankings). I know people bring it up,” he said. “People will talk about it, but stuff like that, you just got to go out and play the way you know you can play and everything else is out of your control. You got to worry about what you can control and that’s how you are on and off the field and how you hustle and stuff like that.”
His goals for the rest of the season are simple.
“My next step up here I just need to go back to trusting my approach and what I’m doing,” Goodman said. “I just want to finish out the year strong and get to know some of these guys a little better and just have fun the rest of the year up here and hopefully win a lot of games.”
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