||Double-A Tennessee Smokies
Past and Future: Taken from tiny San Jacinto Junior College in
Texas he was a classic example of the lefty taken because he was a lefty.
A 31st round pick, Goocher waited nearly a full year before signing, but once he
was in the Diamondbacks organization he waited for nothing. In the Short
Season Northwest League in 2003 he went 3-1 with an ERA under 3.00 coming out of
the bullpen. That was good enough for the Diamondbacks to let him skip
Lo-A South Bend and move right into the California League, and the starting
rotation, in the 2004 season.
Apparently Goocher didn't much like California, because after just 14 starts
he was off to the Double-A Texas League, and that's where things stalled for
Goocher. After putting up incredible numbers in Yakima and Lancaster he
was shelled in the Texas League. This past year he once again moved, but
remained in Double-A, as the Diamondbacks moved their Double-A squad to
Tennessee, and the highly competitive Southern League. Inconsistency was
Goocher's calling card in '05. He started by winning four of his first six
starts, allowing just 13 earned runs in 36.1 innings. He followed that by
losing three of his next four starts, allowing 20 earned in 20.1 innings.
The second half wasn't as pretty, as Goocher won only two of his 11 starts in
June and July. More troubling was the fact that Goocher pitched six or
more innings only once in his last 12 starts, though he did finish strong,
winning his last two starts of the season by throwing 11.1 innings of six hit,
no run ball.
The lefty earned himself an invitation to the Instructional League this fall
where he will continue to work on his change up, and his future will largely be
determined by that pitch. Goocher will likely remain in Double-A to start
the season in '06, and projects as a long relief man in the bigs. His
ability to throw four different pitches for strikes will be a plus, but without
an overpowering fastball the change up is the key to Goocher getting right
handers out consistently and keeping the ball in the yard.
|Clint Goocher '05
||Innings per Start
|Double A Tennessee Smokies
Pitches: Goocher isn't blowing anybody away, but when he's on
his ability to throw four different pitches for strikes keeps hitters off
balance. Phil Avlas has watched Goocher mature, having caught him in
Yakima back in '03, Lancaster in the first half of '04 and then this year in
"He's got kind of a weird delivery, which is good, it makes it hard for
hitters to pick up the ball. He is one of those guys who pitches backward,
working off his change up, but every once in awhile you'll see his fastball just
have a little extra on it. He doesn't walk people, at this level you
In addition to the fastball and change Goocher throws both a curve and a
slider, and worked a lot on throwing the slider 'backdoor' to right handers, but
hasn't mastered it yet, and it can get him in trouble when he catches too much
of the plate. While most organizations encourage young pitchers to throw
either the curve or slider because Goocher can throw both consistently for
strikes the Diamondbacks have left it alone. If he gets ahead he's
effective, but none of his pitches are good enough to throw when he's behind in
the count. If the change continues to improve that will help him both to
get ahead, and dig out any holes he gets himself in.
ETA: Ready for a breakthrough. Goocher's change up has
been a work in progress for two years now, and scouts and coaches all agree it's
starting to come around. This fall's work in the Instructional League
should help, and if he comes into '06 with confidence in that pitch he could be
ready for a bump quickly. His four pitches make it tough for hitters to
get a bead on him the first time through, but because he doesn't feature any one
'plus' pitch a move to the bullpen seems likely, so that hitters will only get
one look at him a game. He'll go as far as the change up will take him.
FutureBacks.com will spend a large portion of the next three months profiling prospects up and down the organization. We start in Double-A with a lefty who works off the change, throws strikes, and is heading to the Instructional League to look for consistency.