Southern notes: Goforth makes his move

Brewers' No. 13 prospect enjoying seamless switch to Stars bullpen

A seventh-round pick in 2011, David Goforth is 3-3 with a 3.35 ERA and a league-high 16 saves this year. (Huntsville Stars)

By Guy Curtright / Special to | July 1, 2014 10:00 AM ET

The Milwaukee Brewers made a couple of Minor League player development decisions last July that could prove significant for years to come. David Goforth moved from the rotation to the bullpen, and Tyler Cravy made the opposite switch.

In the case of Cravy, it was more a move of need that turned out to be fortuitous. In the case of Goforth, it was a well-thought-out switch long in planning.

"I didn't know what the timing would be, but I knew the Brewers were going to make the move eventually," said Goforth, Milwaukee's No. 13 prospect.

Both pitchers thrived in their new roles, with Huntsville the short-term beneficiary and Milwaukee the long-term one.

Cravy was the top starter in the Southern League during the first half, going 8-1 with a 1.72 ERA and 0.85 WHIP before being promoted to Triple-A Nashville.

Goforth leads the Double-A circuit with 16 saves in 19 opportunities and has been the anchor for a pitching staff that helped lead the Stars to the first-half title in the North Division while posting the SL's best record.

Cravy got his chance in the rotation last season with Class A Advanced Brevard County after Goforth was promoted to Huntsville following an appearance in the mid-June Florida State League All-Star Game.

Nothing changed for Goforth initially as he built on his first-half success as a starter with Brevard County, going 3-1 and posting consecutive seven-inning scoreless outings for the Stars.

The Brewers, though, had a plan for the right-hander, and he was moved to the bullpen after the mid-July All-Star break despite being the reigning Southern League Pitcher of the Week.

Goforth was 5-for-5 in save opportunities as Huntsville's new closer and then shined again in the Arizona Fall League in that role, making the Rising Stars Game and posting four more saves.

Goforth, 3-3 with a 3.25 ERA in 33 games this season, has had a few rough outings but many more impressive ones for the Stars.

"The Brewers should be high on him. He's quality," said Chattanooga's Razor Shines, who managed Goforth on the North team in the Southern League All-Star Game.

Goforth has a fastball that can reach the high 90s and the assortment of other pitches befitting a former starter.

The seemingly sudden switch from the rotation to the bullpen last season wasn't as difficult as you might suspect for Goforth, because he had been in both roles while pitching in the SEC for the University of Mississippi.

The Brewers, who took Goforth in the seventh round of the 2011 Draft, liked what they saw in both cases, but always considered the bullpen his ultimate landing spot.

"They wanted me to start at first to build up my innings and work on my pitches," the 25-year-old Mississippi native said. "But I was ready to go to the bullpen whenever they decided to make the move.

"I think they thought I'd accomplished what I needed to as a starter and that's why the switch was made when it was. I was fine with it and ready to get going with the transition."

The Arizona Fall League helped Goforth get fully comfortable in relief.

"After starting for a couple of years, I had to get back in the groove of coming out of the bullpen," he said. "It worked out good and really helped me."

As a starter, Goforth would reach 97-98 mph with his fastball, but it took him a while to build up his velocity. Now he comes out of the bullpen throwing heat from the start.

"It took me a while to get used to warming up quick, but now it is no problem," he said.

The problem lies with opponents trying to hit Goforth and the other Huntsville pitchers. Cravy is gone, but the Stars are still tough on the mound.

"It's been a fun season so far," Goforth said.

In brief

Moving up: Second baseman Jose Peraza was hitting .400 after his first 10 games with Mississippi, but the Braves lost the other half of their double-play combination when Elmer Reyes was promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett. Reyes, 23, batted .303 in 58 games for Mississippi and was selected to play in the Southern League All-Star Game. Peraza, 20, hit .342 in 66 games with Class A Advanced Lynchburg, and he had a four-hit game and a trio of three-hit outings in his first eight Double-A contests. Atlanta's No. 4 prospect will play in the All-Star Futures Game.

Key addition: Jackson third baseman D.J. Peterson, Seattle's No. 2 prospect, had a hit in each of his first four games with the Generals, but his only extra-base hit was a double. The 12th overall pick in the 2013 Draft out of the University of New Mexico blasted 18 homers for Class A Advanced High Desert before being promoted and was batting .326 with 77 RBIs in 65 games. Peterson, 22, will play in the All-Star Futures Game.

Rickwood success: The 19th annual Rickwood Classic in Birmingham drew a crowd of 8,686 -- third largest for the event at historic Rickwood Field. Mississippi defeated Birmingham, 5-2, on June 25, dropping the Barons' record in the game to 9-10. First baseman Seth Loman, a former Baron, had a two-run homer and an RBI double to key the Mississippi victory. Former Cy Young Award winner Dwight Gooden was the Classic's guest of honor and threw out the first pitch.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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