This Rockies prospect is impossible to ignore

September 11th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Thomas Harding’s Rockies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Catcher/first baseman Hunter Goodman, who joined Double-A Hartford this week after productive offensive stints at Single-A Fresno and High-A Spokane, is often overlooked until he becomes impossible to ignore.

Considered a prospect, but not a can’t-miss-kid, from Arlington High School in suburban Memphis, Tenn., Goodman committed to the University of Memphis. Then, he made himself impossible to ignore during a three-game series at Western Illinois, when he hit four home runs, including three grand slams (one in each game), and tallied 22 RBIs -- including a Memphis and American Athletic Conference single-game record 11 in the final game.

He ranks 23rd on the MLB Pipeline Rockies prospect list, but with 34 home runs and 102 RBIs through Thursday, he’s put himself on the radar. So, how does a guy light on advanced publicity have a tendency to be heavy on production?

Here are some ideas:

Strong support: His father, Robert Goodman, was a solid high school player and coach, and his mother, Stephanie Goodman, was a collegiate softball player at Freed-Hardeman University in Hendersonville, Tenn. Hunter Goodman’s dad coached him as a youth, and emphasized hard work over worrying about prospect status.

“He’s always told me it’s the same game, just go trust yourself, trust what you’ve been doing,” Hunter said of his dad. “He’s helped me a lot this year, just keeping me level and keeping me calm.”

Versatility: Goodman played primarily catcher in high school but began his college career in the outfield because that was his best way to get on the field. He is growing as a catcher, but also playing some first base. The ability and the willingness to move around also came from his dad.

“My dad was one of my coaches on our little travel team, and he and the other coaches made it so when we had a weekend tournament, we’d play almost every position,” Goodman said. “It wasn’t like everybody just had a set position. I have a clear understanding of most of the positions.”

Also, Goodman played high school football as a solid slot receiver, and he was a good enough punter that his coaches encouraged him to pursue college scholarships.

“It keeps you athletic and using those body parts that you don’t use as much in baseball, and that really helped me,” Goodman said.

Confidence: It's a good thing that Goodman doesn’t scare off easily. When he was drafted last year, in the fourth round, he found himself in the system with a couple of respected backstops -- Drew Romo (first round, 2020) and Braxton Fulford (sixth round, 2021). An organization that has never been represented by a catcher in the All-Star Game has three touted, upper-round picks at close to the same level of the Minors.

“Fulford and I were roommates last year and this year in Fresno,” Goodman said. “Going into Spring Training, I was like, ‘I guess one of us will DH and one of us will catch.’ Then I got to Spring Training and they were like, ‘We want you to play some first base if we can keep you in the lineup.’ I was all for it.

“I’m not worried much. I’m working at first base and at catching all the time, and I feel I’m doing a good job no matter where they put me.”

Timing: Balls didn’t fly over the fence immediately this season -- his first in professional baseball. But once Goodman was able to time the decided leg kick he employs in his right-handed approach, he was turning heads before he knew it.

“When I started doing really well and kept doing really well, I looked around at what other people were doing around me and on other teams and was like, 'Man, this is cool,'” Goodman said. “I had high expectations for myself this year. I feel like you need to set those, so you have something to really strive for.”