Sara Goodrum breaks down Astros' prospects in Q&A
Houston's player development director discusses Gilbert, Arrighetti, Leon, 2022 Draft class
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Sara Goodrum has been on the job as the Astros’ player development director for 14 months, a role in which she oversees all player development staff and collaborates with coordinators on the recruiting, hiring and development of the staff. Goodrum took some time to answer some questions about the state of Houston’s Minor League system this week before the Astros' 9-3 victory over the Braves on Wednesday.
MLB.com: You’ve been on the job for a little more than a year. What’s been your biggest challenge?
Goodrum: Going from Year 1 to Year 2 has been a lot smoother. Year 1 was learning all these new names and faces of the 180 Minor League players and all the staff. Coming in Year 2, it’s been nice to be familiar with the system and what we do and who’s what. Now, Year 2 is focusing on understanding what we want to prioritize to continue the development of the Major League team, and working closely with our coordinators to make sure we’re identifying the right things -- and making sure players are progressing the way they should be.
MLB.com: Outfielder Drew Gilbert, your No. 1 pick last year out of the University of Tennessee, is back on the field this spring after dislocating his right elbow in a crash into the wall in Single-A (Fayetteville) last year. How’s he looked in his first camp and coming off a significant injury?
Goodrum: Drew’s doing well. We’re really excited to get him back in game action and he’s looked really good. What was really impressive, just even in the short clip (10 games) we saw him, was he showed his ability to control the strike zone really well. He swings the bat with a lot of bat speed, he has a lot of intent with his swing. I think it will be really fun to watch the offensive production this year.
MLB.com: Spencer Arrighetti, a right-handed pitcher taken in the sixth round of the 2021 MLB Draft, is a name that gets mentioned a lot as someone who has impressed during his time in the organization. What’s made him a name people are talking about?
Goodrum: Spencer’s a competitor. He works really hard, he’s really in tune with what he needs to work on, he has a really good slider and a uniqueness about him that makes him hard to hit. He’s a really fun, exciting prospect that we have.
MLB.com: We saw Pedro Leon get time in a Grapefruit League game Tuesday after he had hernia surgery in January. He’s played in center field, shortstop and second base. What’s the future hold for him in terms of defensive positioning?
Goodrum: I think with Pedro the focus this year will be playing some center field, and then you might see him get some second-base action as well. … He's incredibly athletic, an incredibly gifted player, so I think the thought process there was to see how he can adapt to some different positions and see if there’s anything there.
MLB.com: Are there any members of the 2022 Draft class that have really stood out to you here in Florida?
Goodrum: Honestly, this might sound cliché, but there’s a lot of them. That was just an overall really impressive Draft class. … We’re really excited to see them in action for a full season this year. We didn’t quite get all the pitchers out in games last year, so just across the board, it’s exciting.
MLB.com: The Astros have promoted coaches up the ranks, sort of like players, the last few years and some coaches end up moving with the players. How has that helped in player development?
Goodrum: I don’t think moving (coaches up) levels with players is done by design. I do know that it’s really important to recognize hard work in the organization, and I think we’ve been blessed with such incredible coaches that are really talented and good at what they do, because it gives us the ability to promote from within. And when you’re able to have that, I think it just makes it even more special. Because when you’re able to promote someone into a leadership position that’s already familiar with the organization, I think it motivates everyone around them, [because] they see we recognize the hard work they’re doing. It’s something that I really value from a staff development standpoint, as well, too. We’re developing the players, but it’s also important that our coaches are developing as well.