Hunter Goodman was an under-the-radar prospect as a senior at Arlington High School in Tennessee in 2018.
He was lightly recruited and met with “two or three MLB teams” in preparation for the 2018 MLB draft. Goodman knew his best option after high school was to attend the University of Memphis due to its proximity to his hometown and the opportunity to contribute immediately as a freshman.
Goodman has excelled in his first two years at Memphis, developing into one of college baseball’s top players. He earned freshman All-American honors after posting eye-popping numbers in 2019. He was off to a scorching start as a sophomore last spring until the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown the college baseball season prematurely.
His impressive offensive numbers have caused professional scouts to take notice. Pro scouts project the Memphis catcher as a potential first-round pick in July’s draft. Shortstop Dave Anderson, who the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted in 1981, is the only Memphis first-round pick in program history.
Goodman’s power numbers and overall success in his first two years will help his draft status. If he can have a strong junior campaign, especially defensively, Goodman will have a chance of going in the first round.
“I didn’t really have any buzz out of high school,” Goodman said. “This is pretty new to me. I am trying to take it all with a grain of salt and keep it outside the field and handle everything when I am done with everything here.”
As a freshman in 2019, Goodman batted .326 with 16 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs, and 67 RBIs in 239 at-bats in 55 games. He played catcher in high school, but he served primarily as an outfielder as a freshman.
Goodman caught 11 games as a freshman and then gained some catching experience in the Cape Cod League throughout the summer. He transitioned back behind the plate last season.
He hit .357 with three doubles, eight home runs, and 31 RBIs in 70 at-bats in 17 games before the pandemic caused the NCAA to cancel the rest of the college baseball season.
Goodman is a 6-foot-1, 210-pound right-handed hitter who possesses above-average raw power. He uses all parts of the field but tends to go more to his pull side, especially when hitting home runs.
Although he offers huge power potential, it doesn’t come without some strikeouts concerns. He tallied 55 strikeouts and drew nine walks his freshman year while recording 16 strikeouts and five walks last year.
“The bat is my biggest strength,” Goodman said. “My power with my ability to hit the ball out of the park is the biggest part of my game.”
Defensively, Goodman has above-average arm strength and solid athleticism. Goodman spent the offseason working on his blocking and receiving skills in hopes of showing growth in those two areas throughout his junior season this spring.
Throughout his time at Memphis, Goodman has dedicated significant time to refining his defensive skills. Due to the work he’s put in, he believes he can stay behind the plate long-term.
“I think I am a better receiver than I have ever been,” Goodman said. “I have worked on it a lot. Our volunteer assistant and I worked on it a lot. One other thing is my arm strength. That has really improved since I’ve gotten here. I think that’s more to the weight room and getting stronger overall. Those are the two biggest things I have improved since I’ve been here.”
Goodman has high expectations for his junior season. He hopes to build on his first two years while also helping Memphis achieve greater success than they have experienced in recent years.
Memphis has qualified for the NCAA tournament just five times. The Tigers last appeared in the NCAA tournament in 2007, but Goodman believes this season could be the year that they snap their tournament drought.
“One of my goals is just to not let anything get to me,” Goodman said. “I want to go out there and play the game of baseball. I just want to relax. I also want to go out there and play really well and hit like 20 bombs or something like that.
“You can’t worry about what is outside the field when you are playing the game. I would love for us to make a regional. That’s been one of our goals for a while.”
Read more in-depth stories on top 2021 MLB draft prospects here.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He’s interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.