Among the more obscure (but interesting!) September promotions: Niko Goodrum of the Minnesota Twins. You won’t find his name on most recent prospect lists, but he does have good tools and has shown flashes of meaningful skills. Let’s take a quick look.
Goodrum was not obscure coming out of high school: he was a second round pick in 2010 from Fayetteville, Georgia. At the time he was noted for significant speed, arm strength, and raw power, but scouts said his approach needed work in pro ball.
He did not advanced quickly, spending three seasons in rookie ball; he was eventually overshadowed by other players in the Twins system. Still, he kept moving up the ladder, advancing one step at a time until reaching Triple-A (and ultimately the majors) this season.
Goodrum is a switch-hitter listed at 6-4, 190. He's gained at least an inch and 20 pounds since high school and may not be done growing. His athleticism really stands out on the field; I felt he was second only to Byron Buxton in terms of quickness and agility in the pre-game workouts. He also has a very strong throwing arm, easily the best I saw during infield drills. His primary position is shortstop, but unfortunately he was the DH in the game so I didn't get any sort of valid read on his in-game range and footwork. There has been talk of moving him to the outfield, but so far he's still an infielder.
Although Goodrum went 0-for-5 in the game with a strikeout, I thought he looked pretty solid as a hitter. He was very patient, worked the count well, and showed better-than-average bat speed. His swing is level and his power is still prenatal, but there's some zip in that bat and I wouldn't be surprised if more home runs come in time. He laid off the outside stuff that annoyed the other Cedar Rapids hitters, but had some problems with a couple of pitches low-and-in.
Four years later, what do we find?
Honestly the basics haven’t changed much. He may have lost a bit of running speed with physical maturity, but he’s still fast and quite athletic. The arm strength is still there. Defensively the Twins have used him all over the field: at Rochester this year he played every position except pitcher and catcher.
That versatility is a great asset but ultimately it will come down to the hitting.
Goodrum has produced adequate but not flashy numbers at each level, with wRC+ marks just a bit above-average every year. He is a more aggressive hitter than he was four years ago but he gets to his power more often now, setting a career high with 13 homers this season.
At age 25, Goodrum is a bit old for a prospect but the tools are intriguing and he’s made just enough skill progress to give hope that he can be a useful role player.
He can still run, too: