How Kentlake High graduate Luke Goodgion went from injured and out of the game to the MLB draft
By KRIS HILL
Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor
July 12, 2012 · Updated 9:44 AM
Luke Goodgion didn’t think he would ever play ball again four years ago much less get drafted in the 33rd round by the Tampa Bay Rays in June.
After Goodgion had a string of bad luck after his first year of college it seemed unlikely he would get back on the baseball diamond.
First, he broke his elbow in the middle of a pitch playing summer baseball, then six months later he suffered a detached retina in his right eye and a couple months later injured his ankle to the point he was in a walking boot.
Goodgion, a 2007 Kentlake High graduate, was out of baseball after having high hopes for some kind of a professional career his senior year of high school.
A lefty who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 220 pounds, Goodgion had a lot going for him before he broke his elbow.
“When I was in high school and a little bit of my freshman year I talked to a couple scouts,” he said. “They were like, ‘You’re tall, left handed and throw 90 mph, which is what we’re looking for …’ But, they couldn’t legally draft me or talk to me until my junior year so I didn’t really have much contact after that.”
He played his freshman year of college ball at the College of the Ozarks in Missouri.
“I went there for one year, then came back that summer, broke my elbow and didn’t play for two years,” Goodgion said. “After I had the two years off I was just kind of working stupid jobs and going to school.”
He decided to play softball with his uncle and a bunch of friends. Goodgion realized he could throw a softball so, maybe, just maybe he could pitch.
“I decided to give baseball a try again,” he said. “I played at Green River from 2010 to 2011. I did really good there and I got a full ride scholarship to Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. Going into Green River I didn’t really have any intention of getting drafted because I didn’t think I could throw as hard as I did. My main goal was to get a scholarship to a four-year school and finish college for free.”
Goodgion is one of four sons, so, it made sense he wanted to find the least expensive way to pay for his college education and if he could use his arm to do it, why not.
Two of his brothers are going to school and participating in ROTC, one through the Air Force the other through the Army, which isn’t a big surprise since Goodgion’s father, grandfather and uncle all served in the military.
He briefly considered joining the military but that detached retina caused him issues with the eye exam when Goodgion visited with recruiters and he was told he couldn’t serve.
Quietly relieved, Goodgion was glad to focus on baseball, and it seems to have worked out well.
“At that point I was just looking at my life, what am I supposed to do now,” he said. “I don’t want to be just a normal person, I know that God sent me here for something better after recovering from that and finally feeling like I was back to normal, I just gave baseball another shot.”
At Lewis-Clark Goodgion threw in 10 games, seven of which were starts, finishing with a 2-1 record and a 2.48 earned run average, according to the school’s athletics website. In 36.1 innings he struck out 33 and held opposing batters to a .222 average.
Goodgion knew there was a possibility he could be drafted. He had conversations with the Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners as well as Tampa Bay.
In fact, the Rangers left him with the impression they would take him somewhere between the 13th and 19th rounds, but when the 19th round passed, then 11 more rounds went by without his name being called as Goodgion watched on his computer he threw up his hands and left his apartment to meet a buddy at a nearby bar.
“Right as I got to the bar, the Rays called me and said, ‘Hey, do you want to play pro ball?,’” Goodgion said. “I asked, ‘What round are we in, because I’m not even watching.’”
The Rays representative who called him told Goodgion the 33rd round was about to start.
Just a few moments later, Goodgion’s phone rang again.
“They said, ‘Congratulations, you’re a Ray.’ And I screamed as loud as I could in the bar,” he said. “It was one of the best days of my life because I have dreamed about this for a long time.”
Goodgion brings to the Rays minor league system a four-pitch repertoire. He still throws hard, he said, with a four seam fastball that’s straight heat along with a two-seamer which has some nasty movement that fools batters when he’s got control of it along with a slider and most recently a changeup.
He is living in Florida now, playing rookie ball, throwing in relief thus far.
“I haven’t given up a hit, haven’t walked anyone, had three strikeouts and four perfect innings (through July 6),” he said. “I hope to keep that streak going.”
That tropical weather makes for a shorter warm up period compared to throwing in the Northwest, Goodgion explained, though the next step in the minor league system for the Rays would be a stop in New York.
Still, Goodgion couldn’t ask for anything more right now.
“I feel blessed more than anything,” he said. “My friends, my family, they’ve all been supportive when I was down and they were even more supportive when I started playing and had the success. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m not stuck in a hole that I didn’t know how to get out of and I just feel blessed.”
Contact Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor Kris Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 432-1209, ext. 5054.