GENEVA – Jackson Goddard was playing catch on an off day as a junior at Kansas University, seemingly the most innocent of activities for a pitcher.
Until it wasn’t.
“Something tore in there,” said Goddard, the Kane County Cougars pitcher.
Goddard soon learned he suffered an oblique injury after four promising starts – four wins – to begin his season.
“It was probably weakened before that,” Goddard said following the Cougars’ 4-2 loss to the Clinton LumberKings on Monday. “It was just kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Goddard took the loss Monday, surrendering five hits, three runs (two earned) in 3 2/3 innings pitched. The Cougars fell to 47-40.
He missed approximately six weeks with the injury. Goddard’s draft stock was comfortably resting within the first few rounds.
“It was tough at first – especially those first couple of weekends were tough watching us play in these big games and I just had to sit there,” Goddard said. “Once the rehab process got started, the finish line got in sight. It was easier and easier to just mentally get ready. I [knew] I was about to start playing again.”
After returning, Goddard still finished the season 5-1 with 60 strikeouts and a 4.10 ERA.
According to MLB Pipeline, “[Goddard] would have been a top two-round pick had he not suffered the oblique injury.” He was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third round of the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft.
“It’s tough to really think about because there’s so many uncontrollable [variables],” said Goddard, who went 99th overall. Goddard is the third-highest draft pick in Kansas program history behind Tom Gorzelanny (No. 45 in 2003) and Jimmy Walker (No. 91 in 1993), per KU Athletics.
“I was able to finish the year, which I was happy with. I didn’t have a season-ending injury,” Goddard continued. “I think I was strong finishing the year and then got drafted in the third round by the Diamondbacks...It’s hard to look back on what could’ve happened or what would’ve happened. I’m happy with what happened.”
The Diamondbacks would agree.
Goddard was named the Diamondbacks’ minor league pitcher of the month in April after allowing just one earned run in 22 innings pitched. The Tulsa, Okla. native struck out 22 over five starts, while sporting a 0.41 ERA.
Goddard is now 4-3 on the year through 16 starts with 59 strikeouts and just 22 earned runs. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder throws a fastball, changeup and slider. The slider, in particular, is coming along in his development.
“[Goddard’s slider] has been his problem as of the last couple games,” Cougars catcher Zac Almond said. “He works really fast, [A] really high-tempo guy. Which I love as a catcher. I love a guy that’s ready.”
“He’s got stuff that could carry on up levels,” Almond continued. “He could pitch in the big leagues one day. His learning experience right now – everybody, this is a learning league – he’s learning how to take his three pitches and make them the best he can make them.”