PHILADELPHIA -- Pete Mackanin had exhausted all his options to extract any bit of offensive production from his corner outfield spots. Cedric Hunter had been optioned to Triple-A. Darin Ruf followed a few weeks later.So why not put some faith into the player taken No. 1 in this year's Rule
PHILADELPHIA -- Pete Mackanin had exhausted all his options to extract any bit of offensive production from his corner outfield spots. Cedric Hunter had been optioned to Triple-A. Darin Ruf followed a few weeks later.
So why not put some faith into the player taken No. 1 in this year's Rule 5 Draft? Since May 4, Tyler Goeddel has started all but two games in left field. And the vote of confidence from the Phillies manager is paying off.
Goeddel entered Tuesday with a four-game hitting streak and has hit safely in six of the past seven games. While serving a limited role to start the season, Goeddel was hitting .160 (4-for-25) with nothing more than a single. He sat for three straight games leading up to May 4. The 23-year-old outfielder has raised his batting average 80 points since the calendar turned, hitting .303 to bring his season average up to .241.
"To get regular playing time and confidence is huge," Goeddel said. "Coming to the field every day to see myself in the lineup, it's a feeling I didn't have last month. It's a lot more relaxing, less stressful."
The month of April marked the first time Goeddel had spent any time above Double-A in his professional career. Playing sporadically only made the transition more difficult.
"I'm sure after his season was over, he never thought he'd be in the big leagues this year," Mackanin said. "It's not easy to make the adjustment. It's a little overwhelming. I think that's what happened to him."
Now that Goeddel is seeing pitchers for a second time, he's able to make adjustments -- just as they're doing to him. Goeddel found that he was late on the majority of fastballs he faced. So he began starting his leg kick earlier. He's also working on eliminating wrapping his hands as he starts his swing to get his bat into the zone faster.
Prior to May 4, Goeddel whiffed on 26 percent of the fastballs he saw. He's swung and missed on only 6 percent of fastballs since then, putting 32 percent of them in play, compared to just 9 percent during the first month of the season.
"You need to hit the fastball if you're going to play up here, and I feel I've made that adjustment," Goeddel said.
It will be a year of adjustments for Goeddel. He faces the same challenge as every other young player: The more film opposing pitchers get, the better they can adjust to the hitter. It's a battle for who can stay ahead of the other, and Goeddel has the upper hand for now.
Mackanin said he even considered moving Goeddel up to the second slot in the Phillies' batting order. On a team that's scored four or more runs just twice in its last 20 games, Mackanin will ride the hot hand as long as he can.
Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.