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Goodson signs with Phillies as free agent

[6/25/04]A trip to Birmingham with three friends landed Robby Goodson with a Major League Baseball team.

The former Vicksburg High standout signed a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies and is waiting his paperwork to go through the MLB office so he can begin playing with the Phillies’ rookie league team in Clearwater, Fla.

“I think they were going to get me anyway,” said Goodson, who went to a Phillies open tryout in Birmingham following the MLB amateur draft. “It was a typical tryout taking ground balls and hitting some.”

He got the call on June 16 and flew to Florida on June 18. He has yet to play, but has been working in the batting cages on the side.

“They said they wanted to use me in the outfield and at first base, but it doesn’t matter to me,” said Goodson, who led Jacksonville State to its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance, hitting .305 with 17 home runs, including three walk-off homers, last season.

It was his first season since transferring from Mississippi State.

“I think I would have played at Mississippi State last year, but I didn’t want to take a chance,” said Goodson of his move to Jacksonville. “I had a chance to move on and play every day.”

Goodson did not get drafted in the 50-round amateur draft, but his former college coach said that may not necessarily be a bad thing.

“If they pick you up as a free agent, you know there is a need there,” Jacksonville State coach Jim Case said. “Many times, being picked as a free agent is better than getting picked in the 43rd round.”

Goodson, married with a 2-month-old daughter, is living in a Clearwater hotel for the season, which lasts about 2 1/2 months. He said after the rookie league, he will got back to school and pursue his degree.

The 12-team Gulf Coast League began Monday and the team was 1-3 after Thursday’s loss the team’s third straight.

Clearwater, located across the bay from Tampa on the Gulf of Mexico, also houses one of the three Phillies’ Class A teams. Goodson is hoping to make a quick jump to one of those squads.

If he does it, though, it most likely will not be as a pitcher.

Goodson dominated high schoolers with his blazing fastball and nasty curve. He was used sparingly as a pitcher at Mississippi State and was JSU’s closer.

He went 2-2 with a 2.78 ERA and had eight saves last season.

“They want me as a hitter, so I guess I will hang up my pitching glove for a while,” Goodson said with a laugh.

Case said no matter where the Phillies organization decides to put him, the future is bright.

“He is a great kid with a whole lot of talent,” Case said. “His future is very bright.”