Prior to the NCAA’s decision to cancel the rest of its baseball season back in March amid concerns over the Coronavirus, sophomore catcher Hunter Goodman had begun the new campaign on a tear for the Tigers. Through 17 games, the 2019 American Athletic Conference newcomer of the year had already tallied a team-high eight homeruns and 31 RBIs, and his .743 slugging percentage was good for thirty-third nationally and fourth best among players with sixty-five or more at-bats.
To start off at such a blistering pace, only to have the rug pulled out from underneath, had to be a bit deflating. Regardless, Goodman knew he still had to find a way to get some work in while away from the team facilities, even if it meant going back to his roots.
“It definitely changed the routine,” Goodman said. “It was disappointing when the season ended, but those first two weeks, I got a chance to relax and actually have somewhat of a summer. I went to the beach with my family and relaxed for a few weeks, and once that ended, it was hard to work on baseball because you had to work on your own and do everything on your own. Me and my dad, our high school let us go up there and do all the stuff, so I pretty much tried to keep the same routine; went and hit every day, worked on defense. Outside of that, my buddy had a weight set in his garage, so I pretty much got to do everything I would have done here, minus playing games.”
After being recognized as a freshman All-American by various outlets two seasons ago, Goodman only needed a month to further solidify his status as an MLB prospect. During the Tigers’ three-game series with Western Illinois back in late February, a 3-0 Memphis sweep, he turned in four homeruns, three of them grand slams, with an absurd 22 RBIs. At the time of this writing, Goodman is listed as the eighth best college prospect according to Perfect Game, and Prospects Live projects him to be drafted somewhere in the early rounds, potentially even as high as the first.
“I’ve seen the stuff that has been posted and all those things, I’ve been getting calls and talking to different people,” Goodman said. “Honestly, I’m just going to take it like another year. It’s the same thing, I just have to go out there and play the same way, can’t try to do too much. I’m just trying to stay relaxed and play baseball.”
While Goodman certainly knows what is at stake for him personally, he chooses not to look too far down the road. Instead, after putting together a 10-7 start pre-Covid, his focus is on helping this Memphis team build on the momentum it had created for itself before the world came grinding to a halt.
“We have some big goals this year with a bunch of returners,” Goodman said. “We’re not really losing very much, so we’re looking to come out and play some good baseball.”
As he prepares to embark on his junior season in tiger blue, the journey may have looked and felt different this summer, but the destination never changed. For now, he’ll be the engine tasked with powering the Memphis offense. Before long, though, the only places to find Hunter Goodman will be in the big leagues and in the program record books.