Throughout the 2018 season, Casey Golden has resided under the radar as an unranked prospect. As the budding Rockies outfielder continues to rake, he's becoming tougher to miss.
Golden grabbed a share of the five-way Minor League home run lead, bashing his 30th and 31st long balls of the season, as Class A Asheville beat Augusta, 10-9, on Tuesday.
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After a wild game that featured three lead changes in the first five innings and a pair of two-run margins in the final three, Golden was happy for the final result.
"It feels like a really good night to get a win, definitely to help my team in any way I can, whether it's getting on base or putting up some power numbers," he said. "I got some pitches I could handle early in the game and did something with them to try to give us an early lead."
With one run in for the Tourists, Golden clubbed a two-run shot to left field in the bottom of the first inning. The 23-year-old became the first Asheville player reach 30 homers since Corey Dickerson accomplished the feat in 2011.
Down 7-3 in the fourth, Golden sparked the comeback with a leadoff homer to left-center in the bottom of the frame. The 2017 20th-round pick was in the mix again in the fifth. He singled to center with one out and Matt McLaughlin belted a two-RBI double to highlight the three-run frame in which the Tourists regained the lead.
"Helping my team change the momentum, stuff didn't go our way early, but our pitchers stepped up in the back stretch of the game," Golden said. "For me to get the inning started and the guys behind me kept pushing and kept battling, it meant a lot."
Although the UNC Wilmington product struck out in the seventh, the night still put him in the record books. Golden's 31 homers stand tied for the eighth-most in a year in Asheville team history since 1897. Dickerson also finished with 31. Next up on the Tourists' single-season list are Derrick Gibson (1996) and Bob Robertson (1961). Both belted 32.
"Sticking to my approach with the coaching staff, [we're] coming together and trying to find something that is just consistent day in and day out," the North Carolina native said. "I'm really sticking to a routine, whether it's cages that day or really not trying to do too much in batting practice. I'm trying to keep it really simple and work on my pitch recognition. There's definitely not been one thing to help me with this season. It's been a lot of moving parts trying to figure out what works best for me."
Golden entered the night batting .304/.435/.661 in 16 games, his best on-base and slugging percentages of any month in the year and numbers that only improved on his 3-for-4 night.
"I'm trying to take care of my body as best I can and get a lot of sleep, hydrate," he said. "When I come to the field, I'm just trying not to do too much every day, just let things happen and know that if you have a bad game, we're going to play another one. You're definitely going to get plenty of at-bats and plenty of opportunities to pick yourself back up and just try not to let bad at-bats get the best of you for days going forward."
The Rockies nabbed Golden after his senior year in the 20th round of last year. In his second Minor League season, he's a .285/.364/.597 career hitter with 51 homers and 146 RBIs in 166 games. Golden said his humble beginning still serves as a bit of motivation.
"It definitely fuels me to try to keep progressing and moving on in my career, but it also drives me as a senior sign, a college guy," he said. "The late round, I try not to think about it. If anything, if people mention it to me, I kind of laugh it off because we're all on the same field. It's just us playing the game we love."
Golden moved atop this season's Minor League leaderboard with Triple-A Las Vegas' Peter Alonso, Double-A Portland's Bobby Dalbec, Class A Advanced Daytona's Ibandel Isabel and Class A Lexington's Seuly Matias. If Golden came away with the Baumann Award as the Minors' home run champ this year, he'd consider it a moment of validation.
"It would mean a lot," he said. "It would definitely mean the offseason work I put in meant something and would kind of be a foundation moving forward in trying to get better each and every day and really go into the offseason strong going into next Spring Training."