Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Prep baseball: Why Goetzman is off to the GCL

(photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays) ST. PETERSBURG - Granden Goetzman's path to the major leagues will begin where so many others have started: the Gulf Coast League.
Goetzman, a Palmetto graduate, signed with the Rays on Tuesday after they made him the 75th overall pick of last week's draft. He will report to the Rays' GCL team in Port Charlotte.
The Gulf Coast League is the furthest thing from the glamorous life of a big-league baseball player. Games are played in the middle of the day in front of a handful of fans brave enough to bear the broiling heat.
There is no public-address announcer or seventh-inning stretch, nor is there a whole lot of shade.
According to Evan Brannon, who scouted Goetzman and is seated to Goetzman's right in the above photo, it is the perfect place for a high school player to begin his pro career.
"It's a good introduction to professional baseball," said Brannon, who referred to the GCL as the Gulf Roast League. "It's hot, it's hard, (players use) wood bats, they're playing every day...it will be one of the most important things (Goetzman) does."
The 14-team GCL is sliced into North, East and South divisions, and the season runs from the end of June through the end of August. The GCL Rays play in the South along with the Orioles, Red Sox and Twins, and do not play the GCL Pirates, who are based out of Pirate City and play in the North Division.
The Rays open their season noon Monday against the visiting Red Sox. Goetzman will be close to home June 24, when he and the Rays head to Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota to face the Orioles.

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