Aeros Outfielder Goleski In Groove

Ryan Goleski

Outfielder Ryan Goleski has put together quite a season between Class A Kinston and Double-A Akron. Overall so far, he's hit 20 homers with 83 RBI in 91 games, batting .326 (105-for-322). The following story is reprinted from the July 2005 issue of Indians Ink Magazine -- which gave a preview of things to come. Each month, the magazine covers Tribe prospects as well as the big-league club.

Ryan Goleski just looks like a baseball player. Scouts think so, and so does Hollywood.

The Indians' outfield prospect was an extra in the movie "61," which details Roger Maris' 1961 season when he broke Babe Ruth's hallowed home run record.

"That was just awesome," Goleski understated of his "role" during the filming at old Tiger Stadium in Detroit as a member of the opposing Boston Red Sox in the game in which Maris hit his record 61st homer.

"To put on the 1961 Red Sox uniform and be in the locker room at Tiger Stadium, that was really exciting," said Goleski, who grew up in the Detroit area. "I was in the dugout and on the field. I don't really have a part in the picture, but I was there for all of it. That was really a thrill.

"I loved watching Kirk Gibson when I was growing up. He was my favorite player and I can remember going to Tiger Stadium when I was young to watch him."

Goleski's spiked hair is reminiscent of Gibson during his great years with the Tigers -- and his production at the plate his first two years as a professional were Gibby-like, too.

"This guy has really made some jumps," said Indians scouting director John Mirabelli. "He had a great year last year, had a good instructional league and has made some adjustments along the way, too. We are very excited about his progress. We've got a lot of outfielders in our system, so there's a lot of competition, but Ryan is one of these guys who all of a sudden has started to separate himself from some of the others."

He did that in 2004 at Lake County, when he hit .295 with 28 homers and 104 RBI, following up on a fine pro debut season at Mahoning Valley in 2003 when he hit .296 with eight homers and 37 RBI in only 64 games.

Goleski attributes his improvement to playing summer ball in between seasons while at Eastern Michigan University.

"The thing that helped me the most was playing in Cape Cod between my sophomore and junior year and I faced a lot of good pitching," he said. "I was able to come to pro ball and get off to a good start."

He hit .270 with four homers in Cape Cod, where college players make the adjustment to using wooden bats -- which often leads players in the league to hit only around the .225 level.

Goleski had an outstanding college career, hitting .343 (196-for-672) and totalling a Mid-American Conference record 51 homers with 167 RBI in 155 games. Such numbers would ordinarily merit consideration as a high draft pick, but he lasted all the way until the 24th round.

"I had talked with a lot of teams, but I had a broken hand halfway through my junior year," Goleski explained. That kind of affected how the draft would work out for me. I had a lot higher expectations, but I couldn't really control that aspect of it."

Goleski was injured during a fight on campus when he helped two friends who were attacked by what he estimated to be "about eight other guys." He broke his right hand, missed time, and was not at full strength when he did return. "I didn't know what else to do," he said. "One of my friends was knocked out and guys were kicking his face in. I made the decision to do what I did.

"I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to play pro ball. Now, I'm trying to prove that I belong."

The Indians think he does.

"He's a big, athletic guy and profiles as a right fielder very well," farm director John Farrell said of the 6-3-, 215-pound right-hander. "As a later-round guy, he was a great, great sign. He really emerged as a team leader at Lake County club."

Goleski feels most comfortable in right field.

"I've always played right field, but I'll go anywhere they want me if it gets me the chance to strap on a big-league uniform," he said. "Anywhere they want to stick me, well maybe not catcher, but anywhere they think I can make an impact, I'm ready to go along with their plan."

He admits he didn't exactly know if there even was a plan after being drafted, but that being around veteran ballplayers during spring training the past two years has really helped him become a better professional.

"At first, it really did seem like a long road." Goleski said about his adjustment to pro ball. "At Mahoning Valley, some (Indians players) would come down on rehab assignment and you would ask them what it was like in the majors. The last two springs, I've had the chance to play with the major leaguers in a couple of games and that is just huge. On those days where you get called to work out with the team, you want to learn everything you can. You can pick up things by talking to veteran players and little by little you can use them to adjust your game.

"Every little detail that you can pick up from another player can help you down the road. It was weird at first, there were guys I met who I had grown up watching on TV and there I was on the same field with them. It was surreal at first, but I think I'm over being excited by that now. You can't worry about getting starstruck. You have to focus."

Coming from a cold-weather school where the season is half of what college players in California, Florida or Texas play, Goleski said that the grind of playing a full schedule at the professional level was surprising.

"When I first signed, it took me a couple of days to realize that I was actually a professional baseball player for the Cleveland Indians," he said. "I got over that in a few days and I was real fortunate that they invited me to the instructional league after my first season at Mahoning Valley. That helped a lot going into the next season -- but it didn't prepare me for the shock of playing an entire season.

"There's nothing that can get you ready for that, you just have to experience it. Physically, it is a shock to your body. Once you get past the all-star break, you really start feeling it all over. An ache here, a pain there, things you never felt before in your life.

"There's days when you are in BP and you think you can't go out there, but once you get out there and hit a home run, man, you just feel great all over again."

Goleski's work ethic helped him get through the down periods. He also realized that he could wear down over the course of a season, and so he went through an extended workout routine during the off-season.

"My high school gives me the keys to their facility so that I can work out in the winters up in Michigan with my dad," he said.

"My dad always played sports with me and got me involved in athletics. I can remember the day when I was very young that I told my dad I wanted to play major league baseball. He can tell you about that day and how he saw in my eyes right then that I was willing to make sacrifices in order to get the chance.

"I played basketball my first two years of high school, then quit so that I could concentrate on baseball," he said.

Goleski liked basketball. But he loves baseball.

He knows that his desire to succeed has helped him to this point -- but also understands that too much of a good thing can be a detriment to his career, too.

"Growing up, people would tell me I was chasing an impossible dream and that one in a million make it," he said of his quest to make the majors. "But you know what? I've still got a shot. I know it is going to take a lot more hard work, but I'm ready to put in that work. That's been a fun aspect, putting in work and watching it pay off in my game.

"I always feel like there's something to prove and I want to go out there and show my best in every game. But sometimes I have the tendency to get over-aggressive. I just have to stay back and let things happen naturally. I have a tendency to get myself in trouble when I try to do too much. I need to keep things simple."

Goleski did have 166 strikeouts in his first 194 games of pro ball entering the 2005 season, including 100 in 505 at-bats in 2004. His ratio was about the same early in '05 at Class A Kinston, where he got off to a bit of a slow start and hit .252 with seven homers and 34 strikeouts over his first 39 games.

"That's part of the game, too, failing at times," he said. "My favorite part of the game is just playing. Whether you strike out or you hit a home run, the biggest payoff is when you are challenged and fail -- then come back and meet the challenge the next day with a couple of hits. No matter what, I'm going to go out there and play hard.

"If you are not playing to be at the major league level one day down the road, then I don't know what you are really out here for at all. It was a dream as a little kid that I would get a chance to play pro ball and work up to the majors. I have it all right there in front of me and I want to take advantage of it."

Sounds like the perfect setting for a future movie on baseball -- where a kid with talent achieves his dream by applying a lot of dedication and hard work to his skills.

* * * * * * * * * * *
THURSDAY NIGHT


Class AAA Buffalo (54-51) had its home game against Louisville suspended by rain after two innings with the Bisons trailing, 4-3. The game is scheduled to resume Friday at 6:05 p.m. with the regularly scheduled game between the two clubs to follow.

Class AA Akron (64-41) lost at Trenton, 7-1. Dan Denham (4.94 ERA) allowed no hits, but one run over three innings, leaving after a long rain delay. Tony Sipp (3-1, 3.35 ERA) then gave up five runs over two innings before Travis Foley (3.94 ERA) gave up one run over two innings amd Bubbie Buzachero (2.61 ERA) worked one scoreless inning. Brian Barton (.500) had two of the Aeros' three hits, scored a run and got a stolen base. Before the game, catcher Caleb Brock was sent to Kinston and catcher Wyatt Toregas called up from the Class A team.

Class A Kinston (18-14, 47-23) lost at Wilmington, 4-3, in a game halted by rain with one out in the top of the ninth inning. Jose Constanza (.316) went 4-for-4 with a run and stolen base. Brandon Pinckney (.270) had two RBI, both on sacrifice flies. Kevin Dixon (4.66 ERA) allowed one run on two hits and a walk over six innings, striking out four. Michael Finocchi (0-2, 1.52 ERA) allowed three runs over 1 2/3 innings.

Class A Lake County (18-14, 29-41) had its home game against Asheville postponed by day-long rainstorms that caused flooding in the area.

Class A Mahoning Valley (17-17) got only four hits and lost at Brooklyn, 4-0, in a game halted by rain with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. William Delage (1-4, 6.30 ERA) struck out five over five innings, but gave up four runs, all in the fourth inning. Derrick Loop (3.48 ERA) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

Rookie League Burlington (17-19) defeated visiting Pulaski, 6-4. Jerad Head (.228) went 2-for-3 and hit his sixth homer, a grand slam, and a stolen base. Joanniel Montero (1-4, 5.87 ERA) gave up two runs over five innings. Jimmy Brettl (2.84 ERA) gave up one hit and fanned two over three innings and Nate Bunton (2.92 ERA) allowed two runs over one inning.

GCL Indians (14-15) got only three singles and made three errors in a 2-0 loss to the visiting GCL Phillies. Carlos Rivero (.226) got two hits, but made one error and Lucas Montero (.252) got the other single and stole two bases to lead the offense. Jeanmar Gomez (3-1, 1.41 ERA) allowed two runs (one earned) over six innings, striking out six.

TODAY'S FARM SYSTEM THREE STARS (HITTING)

PLAYER

TEAM

AB

H

HR

R

RBI

SB

BB

SO

1. J. Head

Burlington

3

2

1

2

4

1

0

0

2. J. Constanza

Kinston

4

4

0

1

0

1

0

0

3. B. Barton

Akron

4

2

0

1

0

1

0

0


TODAY'S FARM SYSTEM THREE STARS (PITCHING)

PLAYER

Team

W

L

SV

IP

ER

H

BB

SO

1. K. Dixon

Kinston

0

0

0

6.0

1

2

1

4

2. J. Brettl

Burlington

0

0

0

3.0

0

1

0

2

3. D. Loop

Mahoning Valley

0

0

0

1.2

0

0

1

2

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