Paul Goldschmidt set a Texas State school record with 36 career home runs before being selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the eighth round of the 2009 draft.
A product of The Woodlands—a hotbed for baseball talent—Goldschmidt led the Rookie-level Pioneer League in HRs (18) and slugging percentage (.638) in his first pro season. The 6'4", 240-pound first baseman made the jump to High-A in 2010 where he led the California League in doubles (42), HR (35) and slugging percentage (.606).
Goldschmidt’s power is undeniable, but he’s prone to strikeouts (161 in 525 at-bats last season), leading some scouts to believe he’ll struggle as he advances.
The 23-year-old has answered the critics by not only exceeded expectations in Double-A this year, but is on pace for his best pro season yet. In 193 at-bats this year, Goldschmidt has posted a ridiculous .337/.454/.684 slash with a minor league-leading 18 HR and 52 RBI.
To put that into perspective, Jose Bautista’s historic start to 2011 has him leading the majors with 20 bombs and a .360/.502/.773 slash.
Perhaps most the most encouraging sign for Goldschmidt is that he’s now walking more often than he’s striking out. After recording an embarrassing 30.7 strikeout rate and a somewhat respectable 9.5 walk rate last season, Goldschmidt has an above-average 18.7 strikeout rate and a Barry Bonds-like 17.1 walk rate this year.
Baseball America describes his defense as “adequate,” and notes his “potential to be an average major league first baseman because he’s rangy for his size.”
Goldschmidt didn’t even rank among Baseball America’s top 100 prospects prior to the season, but his scorching hot campaign has gained the attention of those who follow minor league baseball.
Juan Miranda and Xavier Nady are holding down first base this year for the surprisingly red-hot Diamondbacks, but neither are seen as the long-term answer. Goldschmidt is likely to receive a promotion to Triple-A by the All-Star Break, and could be sent to Arizona in September. Assuming he doesn’t flop between now and then, he’ll likely be given the chance to start at first base for the Diamondbacks in 2012.
He’s unlikely to have an impact in the majors this season, but keeper and dynasty league owners should track Arizona’s golden treasure as the year progresses.
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