It all started out rosy enough for Tampa Bay's second-round pick in the 2011 draft when he arrived in Princeton last June. Appearing in 12 of the P-Rays' first 14 games, Goetzman delivered immediately by hitting .298 (14-47) with 10 runs scored, 5 doubles, one homer and 8 RBI in addition to being 7-8 in stolen base attempts.
Project those numbers over 60 games played and he would have led the 2012 P-Rays' in hits, runs scored, doubles, RBI, and stolen bases. However, little was it known at the time that his appearance in Princeton's fourteenth game of the season on July 2 would be his last for the year.
The persisting pain that he just couldn't shake was finally diagnosed when he was flown to Florida for an in-season examination.
"We found out I had a small stress fracture in my back and the doctor said it was something I'd had for quite a while, maybe even back to high school. It was just the daily grind of pro ball that finally made the problem totally show itself," said Goetzman as part of a October 18 telephone interview.
He departed Princeton in mid-July and on the shelf he went for the balance of the 2012 Appalachian League season but he did stay connected to the team from almost 900 miles away.
"I would keep up with the team on the website and would listen to the games on-line," shared the 19-year old Palmetto, FL resident.
His time since has been spent traveling three days per week to the Rays' training facility in Port Charlotte, FL (an hour from his home) for rehab work with Joel Smith, minor league rehabilitation and athletic training coordinator for Tampa Bay. Goetzman reports that he feels everything is going well and that he is planning to ready for the beginning of 2013 spring training.
Working hard is nothing new for the 6'3", 190-pounder, who had to convert from being a regular high school shortstop to an everyday outfielder when he joined the "play for pay" professional ranks. And, he has fond memories of Princeton being a real launching point in his career last season after spending the hot summer of 2011 in the Gulf Coast League, where he hit .173 in 25 games.
"Princeton felt more like real baseball with the fans and the chemistry of what was going on. I felt real comfortable there. The competition was great and the continual traveling was something new for me," commented Goetzman, who also described Princeton fans as involved, friendly, and treated him well.
The next experience? Being prepared for the 2013 season and it is an upcoming challenge that Goetzman eagerly insists he will be ready to tackle.
"I am hoping to make one of the full-season teams out of spring training. Even though my time in Princeton was shorter than I planned, I felt I proved myself and showed what I could do," Goetzman concluded.
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