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Top Prospect Alert - Tyrell Godwin

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 7/10/79, Age: 22, Bats/Throws: L/R, Height: 6’1’’, Weight: 200. Acquired: Blue Jays - Drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2001 Draft (UNC). 2001 Stats: (S-Season-A - Auburn) .368 AVG, 117 AB, 8 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 9 SB, 19 BB, 27 K, .456 OBP, .521 SLG. 2002 Stats: (Low-A - Charleston) .281 AVG, 185 AB, 8 2B, 5 3B, 0 HR, 10 SB, 20 BB, 23 K, .364 OBP, .378 SLG.
    Finally, Tyrell Godwin has been playing professional baseball for roughly the past twelve months. After spurning the Yankees for UNC in 1997 (for both academic reasons and the desire to play football), and choosing to stick it out and rehab his knee at UNC after being drafted by the Rangers in 2000, Godwin dropped into the third round of the 2001 draft because of lingering injury concerns. The Blue Jays snapped him up at that point, and may very well end up with a steal on their hands. A potential leadoff man with a bit of power lurking beneath the surface, Godwin’s athletic ability is readily apparent. His speed is his best tool, with which he has been clocked at less than 3.9 seconds from home to first, which would put him very close to the top of the list in the majors right now. He is 10 for 12 in steals so far this season, so he seems to be a bit more polished than your average young leadoff prospect on the basepaths as well. With this kind of physical ability, you might expect Godwin to be a Luis Castillo-type slap hitter, but he hits the ball with much more authority than that. Godwin tore up the NYP league last year with a .368 BA, and has played fairly well in the SAL this year in limited action (281/364/378). Like most players fresh out of the draft, the home run power has been slow to develop, but his stats this year project to roughly 25 doubles and 15 triples, which leads me to believe that some home run pop will develop over the next few seasons. His strike zone judgment has been his biggest area of improvement so far this season, as he has struck out fewer times so far this year than he did in a little more than half this many at-bats at Auburn last year. His walk rate is down a bit as well, but nowhere near as much as the strikeouts, so the tradeoff is definitely a positive at this point. Defensively, Godwin is not yet as good as he should be. He still relies on his speed far too much to make up for sub-par reads, and his arm is well below average. I expect that he’ll become a good left or center fielder in time, but right now he isn’t too far above average. One last item of concern for Godwin is his apparent brittle nature. Some players just seem to be prone to “freak” injuries, and Godwin, who has already missed a great deal of the last three baseball seasons due to injury, appears to be one of those. He is currently on the DL with a broken hand suffered last Friday while sliding into home, and he is not expected to return until close to August. As a full-term college player, he cannot afford to have very many setbacks in order to maintain his status as a prospect.
    The Blue Jays are in a state of flux right now, with basically every veteran player either on the block or recently traded out of town. Shannon Stewart or Jose Cruz will probably be gone before long, which will leave the other one to play with Vernon Wells and someone else in the outfield. The Blue Jays best outfield prospect, Gabe Gross, is struggling through his 2002 campaign with Tennessee in AA, so Godwin has a chance to insert himself in the long-term plans for Toronto. I would expect to see Godwin play out the year at Charleston upon his return from the DL, and if he acquits himself well, to make the jump to AA sometime next season. From there, the Jays will see whether or not they have a big leaguer on their hands. Godwin is rather similar to George Lombard, the former Brave prospect that has been making waves for the Tigers while Higgy is on the DL. Sometimes these two-sport guys take a while to put it all together, so I wouldn’t write off Godwin for at least a few more years. I think he has a decent chance at a moderate length big league career, perhaps spending a portion of it as the Blue Jays’ primary leadoff hitter. Certainly, he has the physical ability to be much more than that, which is what makes his type of player so attractive to everyone, but I think his brittle nature will keep him from completely fulfilling his potential.      


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