Yah, yah, we know - who the heck is Jared Goedert? He's a minor league free agent the Pirates signed during the off season from the Indians organization who has never been a top prospect, doesn't have a position to call his own, and collects injuries like kids collect baseball cards. Still, it wouldn't surprise us very much to see him in Pittsburgh for a spell this year, as a bench bat.
Goedert was master of all sports at Concordia High in Kansas. He was All-State twice in baseball, hitting .538 with 11 home runs in 20 games during his senior campaign. The Concordia Kid was also All-State in football (as a QB, he led Jayhawk preppies in passing yards his junior year) and hoops (averaging 19.5 PPG as a senior).
Not surprisingly, the Cleveland Indians took a shot at him out and selected him the 36th round of the 2003 draft. Goedert said thanks but no thanks, and followed the footsteps of his ballplaying dad Joe by enrolling in Cloud County CC.
The next season, he transferred to Kansas State University. He played both first and second base as a Wildcat and put up a slash of .341/.423/.492. Goedert spent the summer playing for the Hays Larks of the collegiate Jayhawk League. He compiled a .482 OBP and a .633 slugging % with 19 doubles, 52 RBI, and 54 runs scored. He was named a First Team Summer All-American by Baseball America.
2006 saw him improve his stat line to .337/.466/.609 with a dozen long balls. Goedert did it the hard way, playing through a pair of broken noses as well as a torn tendon in his index finger, missing just two games.
The Indians called again after his junior campaign, taking him in the 9th round of the 2006 draft (281st overall) and inking him to a signing bonus of $70,000. It should be noted that Neal Huntington was part of the Cleveland management team during both Goedert drafts, so he's quite familiar with him.
Goedert reported to Mahoning Valley Scrappers of the short season NYPL, playing in 63 games with a .269/.328/.382 line. That's actually not so bad when you consider that he played the last month of the season with a bum swing and would undergo labrum surgery following the season.
He recovered fully and and reported to the Lake County Captains of the Class A Sally League in 2007. Goedert was a man amongst boys there, putting up a slash of .364/.475/.715 through 46 games with 16 HR, 51 RBI and 44 runs scored in just 205 PA. He was named a South Atlantic League All-Star, and was promoted mid season. But he aggravated his shoulder injury while diving to stop a ball just before getting moved up (ironically, it was during his last game at Lake County), and that would prove a major speed bump in his following campaigns.
The Kingston Indians in the High Class A Carolina League moved him to second to spare his arm (he was playing third like the baseball was a live hand grenade anyway), and he fought through the injury, hitting .256/.369/.424 with four homers and 23 RBI in 149 PA.
His weak shoulder took its toll in 2008. His slash at Kingston was .255/.336/.373 with 10 bombs, and his .709 OPS would be the lowest of his career.
Still, the Indians advanced Goedert to Class AA Akron in the Eastern League in 2009. He suffered through his worst slash ever, .224/.309/.348 with five bombs in 359 PA. Goedert again had to overcome an injury, this time an oblique, that limited him to 92 games. Hurt and floundering in High A and AA, his sheen was fading fast.
Just in time, Goedert recovered his health (and swing), impressing the Tribe FO in 2010's camp, hitting .426 with a .726 slugging %. It's a truism that spring stats are useless as predictors, but another bad performance on his part would have been a career killer, at least in Cleveland.
In Goedert's case, though, his spring showing was a sign of things to come. He was assigned to Akron and his slash was .352/.382/.540 with seven homers and 32 RBI in 44 games. That earned him a shot with the Class AAA Columbus Clippers. His line there was .261/.345/.528 with 20 dingers and 51 RBI in 81 games. Goedert finished off his comeback tour in Venezuela, playing 14 games with a slash of .333/.474/.444. In November, he had come full circle and was added to the 40 man roster.
But yes, you knew he was overdue. Goedert opened the 2011 season on the DL with an oblique injury. When he recovered, he went back to Akron for a few games before returning to the Clippers, where his slash was .271/.346/.593 with 15 homers in 79 games.
He was removed from the 40 man roster during the off season and went unclaimed. To add insult to injury, Goedert was assigned to Akron to open 2012.
In 2012, the Indians experimented with Goedert to the outfield after six seasons of corner infield to see if his glove could play better, though he did mainly play the hot corner. He raked in AA, and spent the last 86 games in Columbus, where he put up a .279/.331/.460 line with 14 home runs and 60 RBIs. He was named to milb.com's Indian organizational All-Star list for third straight year. That was nice, but more telling was the fact that Goedert didn't get a September call up for a team that lost 94 games.
Goedert became a minor league free agent after the season, and the Bucs signed him in November.
Despite the optimistic lede to this post, Goedert does have a holes in his swing and plays the field like the Joker plays Gotham. Not too surprisingly, given his shoulder and oblique history, most of his errors are because of wayward throws rather than iron hands. He's never been on a MLB roster, even for a cup of coffee, and is entering his 28 year old season (his birthday is May 25th).
However, he has shown legitimate home run power, his OPS+ hasn't dipped under 120 since 2009, and he's a 20%+ line drive hitter. Goedert isn't a wild swinger, with Class AAA career 20% K and 9% walk (.341 OBP) rates.
So all that makes him a potential DH candidate in the AL, and here in Pittsburgh, he joins the Pirate collection of bopper corner-type players. His prospects in the organization took a big hit when Jerry Sands, a guy with more pedigree and production, joined the club. But it's a long season, and the Bucs may find themselves in a position where a bench guy with a big RH stick comes in handy. At worst, he's pretty solid insurance in the system where the upper levels are thin.