Seeking pitching depth at Double-A Hartford, the Rockies signed Ashton Goudeau to a minor league contract in November 2018.
One year later, the Rockies added the 27-year-old righthander to their 40-man roster to shield him from the Rule 5 draft.
Goudeau’s path is anything but typical. He is an eight-year pro whom the Royals drafted in the 27th round in 2012 out of Maple Woods (Mo.) JC in their backyard. But he didn’t truly find a home until joining the Rockies organization.
After a poor first start at Hartford, Goudeau met with farm director Zach Wilson, Steve Merriman, then the Hartford pitching coach, and Darryl Scott, then the Rockies’ pitching coordinator for the upper levels. Goudeau readily agreed to scrap his slider and concentrate on his plus curveball.
“His curveball is probably his best pitch,” Wilson said “. . . and when that started hitting home a couple starts in and he started executing in that way, it just built his confidence. And once his confidence took off, he became unhittable.”
Merriman moved Goudeau’s hand position from about 2 o’clock to 12:30 on his fastball, a change that led to better angle with that pitch and slightly more velocity at 93-94 mph. It also enhanced Goudeau’s 78-82 mph curveball, which has 12-to-6 bite, along with his deceptive 82-84 mph changeup that comes out of the same arm slot.
All told, Goudeau recorded a 2.07 ERA in 16 starts for Hartford while striking out 91, walking 12 and allowing four home runs in 78.1 innings.
A broken hand sustained in a June 5 start sidelined Goudeau until Aug. 14. To get more innings and face better hitters, the Rockies sent Goudeau to the Arizona Fall League where he pitched 13 scoreless innings of relief in six games and allowed four hits and no walks with 18 strikeouts.
One year after being an unknown newcomer in minor league camp, Goudeau will participate in his first big league spring training. That’s largely because he began relying more on his curveball, which enhanced his other two pitches.
“Once all that happened,” Wilson said, “all the other stuff started incrementally but quickly improving. Now he’s sort of become the complete package.”
— Ryan Vilade began playing both corner outfield positions during the Rockies’ November development program at their Scottsdale, Ariz., complex. The 20-year-old Vilade is coming off a season at high Class A Lancaster where he was introduced to third base, making 46 starts at that position and 81 at shortstop, his natural position, and hit .303/.367/.466 with 12 homers, 71 RBIs and 24 stolen bases.
— Scott was promoted from pitching coordinator at the upper levels to the Rockies’ bullpen coach. Darren Holmes held that position for five years before being fired at the start of November. Scott just completed his 11th year in the Rockies’ organization and third as the upper level pitching coordinator, a role Merriman will now fill. Merriman was an associate scout with the Rockies from 2002-04 and returned to the organization in 2019 as Hartford’s pitching coach.