8/24/2014 2:04 P.M. ET
Brewers prospect Goforth has tools to be closer
Undersized right-hander makes up for a lack of size with good mechanics
By Bernie Pleskoff / MLB.com
Right-handed pitcher David Goforth certainly doesn't have the physique of a power pitcher. The Milwaukee Brewers' No. 16 prospect is a stocky 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds. But he has a big, big arm.
Goforth was a basketball and baseball player at Neshoba Central High School in Philadelphia, Miss. Beyond pitching, he was an offensive force, hitting .430 with 11 home runs and 65 RBIs in his senior year.
Goforth's abilities took him to the University of Mississippi, where he skipped a year of play as a redshirt freshman for the Ole Miss Rebels. In his first two seasons on the mound, he worked both as a starter and as a reliever. The Cleveland Indians selected Goforth in the 31st round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. Instead of signing with the Indians, he returned for his junior season at Ole Miss and worked on making some changes in his delivery as well as gaining more experience on the mound.
The following June, the Brewers drafted Goforth in the seventh round. The additional collegiate experience had paid off in a higher selection for the right-hander.
I first scouted Goforth in the 2013 Arizona Fall League, which was the third season of his pro career, when he pitched for the Surprise Saguaros. Working exclusively out of the bullpen, he was a member of the West Division Fall Stars team that beat the East in early November. Goforth started the final inning of the game, working a flawless two-thirds of an inning.
Goforth also helped his team win the league's championship game, cleanly closing it out. Overall, he was one of the league's best relief pitchers. Goforth finished the regular season with four saves in 12 innings pitched. He had an ERA of 3.75 and WHIP of 1.25, striking out 15 and walking four. The only real blemish was the two home runs Goforth yielded.
In only his fourth full season, Goforth has already pitched at every level of the Brewers' organization with the exception of Triple-A. He finished last season at Double-A Huntsville, where he is now assigned. Goforth has consistently thrown to an ERA just over 3.0 in his brief career. He's especially tough on right-handed hitters, using that slider-cutter combination to his advantage.
This year, I saw Goforth in the Double-A Southern League All-Star Game held in Chattanooga, Tenn., this past July. He earned his trip to the game due to his 14 saves at Huntsville by midseason. Goforth pitched one inning in the game, giving up a hit and a run while walking one and striking out one.
Goforth has a wide variety of pitches that allow him to work out of the rotation or from the bullpen. He relies on his 96 mph fastball and a 95 mph sinker as his main weapons. Both have excellent late life and induce swings and misses. Goforth also throws a nasty slider and an even better cutter. I've also seen him use a changeup and curveball, but not as often as the fastball-cutter-slider mix.
Goforth uses the entire plate, changing the eye level of the hitter by changing speeds and locations. His fastball command is good, and from the strides I've seen, his control will get even better. Goforth knows how to pitch and compensates for a lack of size with good mechanics. His slider-cutter command is very good, and both pitches serve to keep hitters off balance.
I view Goforth more as a reliever than as a starter. I think he can really shut down the opposition -- with increasingly greater velocity from pitch to pitch -- better from the bullpen. Goforth has little to lose by letting everything go and going right after hitters for an inning as opposed to pacing himself to go deep into games. He has the pitches and the mound presence and demeanor to close games.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.