Technically David Goforth is no longer a prospect. Last year he exceeded the 50 game threshold to still be considered rookie eligible. But he only pitched in 24.2 innings at the major league level--much to my disappointment--and there's a good chance he opens the season back at AAA if only because of the Brewers impressive bullpen depth. Despite all that I've been a fan of his for a while and I still am. While he's been passed on the depth chart by Corey Knebel, and will have to battle others for major league innings, I still think he can be a high leverage reliever.
For the first few seasons of his minor league career the Brewers were content to develop Goforth as a starter. At least in the past this was something they did with all pitchers, even those they viewed as relievers. The thought process is that by giving them more innings to develop their pitches, they'll have a better chance of doing just that. This appears to be the thought process with Goforth's development with the transition to relief beginning in 2013. He then served as the AA closer in 2014. Last year he split the season between AAA and MLB.
The result in AAA last year were nice: 2.68 ERA. But his 4.43 FIP says he might not have earned that. At the major league level he struggled with a 4.01 ERA and 4.27 FIP. As a result we've not been hearing his name a lot. And because the bullpen looks full--Will Smith, Jeremy Jeffress, Michael Blazek, Corey Knebel, Tyler Thornburg, and probably two of Zack Jones, Sean Nolin, and Ariel Pena--Goforth figures to start the season in Colorado's bullpen--perhaps as their closer.
Given his poor showing with the Brewers last year and the likelihood he goes back to AAA, I suspect a lot of Brewers fans are going to forget about Goforth. If they don't forget him, I think their expectations will be low. But that just means he has a good chance to impress when he gets his next chance. And I think he can do just that.
He has a plus fastball that sits around 94 mph and can reach 98 mph. His slider is a good pitch too. Command has been a little shaky, but not bad enough that it seriously hurts his potential. He's also great at inducing ground balls. All throughout the minors he induced over 50% of balls put into play against him were ground balls. Jeremy Jeffress is a fastball/curveball guy, but in terms of production and ceiling I think that's what we might be able to hope for with Goforth.
David Goforth likely opens the season in Colorado Springs. But Brewers fans would do well not to overlook him. He doesn't have the same potential as a Will Smith or Corey Knebel because he doesn't miss bats like them. But he could still be a really good ground ball pitcher that misses enough bats to handle high leverage situations at some point in his career. I look forward to monitoring his progress this year!
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs