2016 Phillies Report Card: Tyler Goeddel
Tyler Goeddel was at a bit of a disadvantage in 2016. The 23-year old outfielder was plucked from the Tampa Bay Rays’ farm system as the first pick in the Rule 5 draft. The 2011 first round pick rose through the Rays system as a third baseman, but was converted to the outfield in 2015. His strong arm made him a fit for right field.
Throughout the Minors, Goeddel had above-average speed and roughly average power, and had the strongest season of his prospect career in 2015. That year, he produced the best strikeout and power numbers of his career to-date, while racking up his fourth straight 20+ stolen base season. He was seen as one of the most polished batters available in the Rule 5 draft, and in a rare move, was confirmed to be the Phillies’ top overall selection days in advance.
Goeddel’s disadvantage from the jump in 2016 was two-fold. The primary disadvantage he faced was inherent to being a Rule 5 pick – by definition, these inexperienced players are required to stick on the Major League roster all season, and unlike other struggling players, cannot receive further seasoning in the Minors. Most of these players fail, and are returned to their original team.
His secondary disadvantage was specific to Philadelphia’s recent success in the Rule 5 draft. Goeddel spent the 2016 season in the shadow of Odubel Herrera‘s massive success only a year earlier, and beyond that, the Phillies’ success at selecting athletic, disciplined outfielders in the Rule 5 draft (Shane Victorino, Ender Inciarte, and Herrera were all selected in an eleven year stretch and have produced 48.5 combined fWAR since their drafts). Expectations were probably unreasonable from day 1.
In 2016, the Phillies clearly watched a player that was over matched at the plate. Outside of an impressive May (113 wRC+), Goeddel’s bat was not Major League-ready. His power numbers (.099 ISO) dipped from his prior levels, and he hit 53.8 percent of batted balls on the ground. His soft-hit rate was one of the highest in the Majors. Not all of these struggles should be laid at his feet – he was used intermittently throughout the year (Goeddel totaled only 213 plate appearances in 92 games), and this lack of use may have had a hand in his struggle to adapt. Defensive metrics didn’t love him, but they’re also unusable over such a small sample. He was, however, the impetus for the most exciting moment of the Phillies’ season.
Short of a miraculous Spring Training, I’m confident that Goeddel will begin the 2017 season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He struggled mightily in his Major League debut, but with a team that was both unable to send him to the Minors and unwilling to play him everyday, he was in a less-than-ideal situation. The decline in his strikeout and walk rates were not as bad as they could have been, and he still may have some kind of a future in the Majors.
In 2016, Tyler Goeddel looked like exactly what he was – a player plucked from Double-A and forced into a full Major League season. His line by itself warrants one of the lowest grades of the season, but considering the cards he was dealt, came in a little below reasonable expectations.