Tyler Goeddel is ready to get to work.
Less than 12 hours after signing with the Tampa Bay Rays for a $1.5 million bonus on Monday night, Goeddel, the 41st pick in the 2011 MLB draft, boarded a plane and was off to begin his professional baseball career.
“It’s definitely a dream come true for it to actually happen,” Goeddel said when reached by phone midday in Atlanta, a stopover en route to the Rays’ rookie ball affiliate in Port Charlotte, Fla. “I’m really excited to get it going and start playing ball.”
Goeddel, a Hillsborough resident and an ex- standout, spent the summer mulling the choice of heading to UCLA or signing with the Rays. Ultimately, in what he called “the biggest decision I’ve ever made,” the 18-year-old decided to forgo his UCLA commitment when he and Tampa Bay agreed to terms about an hour before the signing deadline of 9 p.m. PDT.
“It wasn’t decided until the end,” said Goeddel, who had been in talks with Rays officials throughout the summer and flew to Tampa Bay last week to take a physical. “The deal worked out, so here I am.”
Goeddel’s bonus was nearly twice what the MLB commissioner’s office recommends for the 41st overall pick. Nearly all of the draft picks who signed on Monday inked deals that were well over their slot value.
“I’m not going to get caught up in it,” Goeddel said when asked his thoughts on striking such a lucrative agreement. “I’m just going to try to blend in with all the other guys, work hard and see what happens.”
After practicing his hitting “every day” this summer, Goeddel is anxious to get back on the field and begin his professional development in the Gulf Coast League. The 6-foot-4, 175-pounder said Tampa Bay officials have told him he’ll play “a lot of shortstop and some third base, too.”
“Tyler's a really good-looking young prospect,” Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman told the St. Petersburg Times. “There's some projection with him on the body specifically, but he's a really gifted defender with a really good approach (at the plate) and swing path, and someone that we feel will develop into an impact player on both sides of the ball.”