Picking Texas State has worked out By David King, University Marketing
Recruiting Paul Goldschmidt wasn’t much of a challenge for Texas State baseball coach Ty Harrington
“When I came on my visit, I had never been to San Marcos before, didn’t know what Texas State University was or where it was, didn’t know anything about it,” said the junior first baseman from The Woodlands. “But I fell in love. I liked the coaches, I got to see the school and meet some of the guys, and honestly, I knew where I wanted to be.
“It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
It hasn’t worked out too badly for the Bobcats’ baseball team, either.
Last spring, Goldschmidt broke school records for career home runs and runs batted in. He was named the Southland Conference hitter of the year for the second season in a row, and this year he was named the conference’s player of the year. He was among the conference and NCAA leaders in a number of categories, and he was the offensive catalyst on a team that won the regular-season conference title and earned the team’s first NCAA regional appearance since 2000. He’s also was scouted by virtually every organization in Major League Baseball and was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the eighth round MLB draft in June.
His off-the-field accomplishments are just as impressive. He recently was named the Texas State male student-athlete of the year, thanks to making the dean’s list every semester since coming to school. He was the Southland Conference scholar-athlete of the year for the second time, and he is on schedule to graduate with a degree in finance next spring. All accomplished while juggling a spring schedule of up to five games a week, plus workouts.
“It’s like I told somebody — if it’s important to you, you’ll get it done,” he said. “If you want to get good grades, you’ll find time to study.”
Harrington said he recognized right away that Goldschmidt was going to be as devoted to class work as he was to baseball. And he was right. Goldschmidt’s dedication has impressed the veteran coach for the last three years.
“He understands perseverance, which is critical in anyone’s life,” Harrington said. “We’re all much better when we’re devoted to something on a full-time basis, and to me, for a guy who is 21 or 22 years old to have such an organized atmosphere and environment for himself is just amazing.”
Man in the Middle
Goldschmidt, who at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds is hard to miss anyway, stands out in the Bobcats’ batting order. His hitting skills actually force opponents to worry about him, even when he’s simply sitting in the dugout.
“You’re always thinking about where he’s coming up in the batting order,” Harrington said. “He’s such a force in the middle of the lineup, and so recognizable, that people change what they do way ahead, and even behind him, in the order.”
UT-San Antonio coach Sherman Corbett, whose pitchers have had to deal with Goldschmidt for three seasons, agreed.
“When you start looking at a lineup, he’s the guy,” Corbett said. “You look at who’s hitting behind him, and what the situation of the game is, and you decide if you can pitch around him or take your chances with him.”
As a result, Goldschmidt led the conference in walks by a wide margin. And enough teams have taken their chances and regretted it later: His 87 RBI in 2009 led NCAA Division I, and he also topped the conference in home runs (18). His on-base-plus-slugging-percentage, a statistic that evaluates a player’s overall ability at the plate, was among the best in the conference, and he was part of a team that led the conference in everything from batting average to runs scored to sacrifice flies.
“We were fortunate that we have people ahead of and behind him in the lineup who did a good job and played really well,” Harrington said.
Goldschmidt also owns the school record for home runs (36) and RBI (178), but his goals never were based on his statistics.
“To be honest, the records aren’t all that important,” he said. “I just want to win.”
Prepared for the Future
Goldschmidt was in a good position heading into the summer.
If he is chosen high enough in the draft, he could sign a professional contract, which usually comes with a bonus and a provision that the organization will pay for the rest of the student-athlete’s college tuition. If he decides not to sign, he has an offer to return to the Alaska Baseball League, a summer circuit that brings together college players from around the country for three months of games in the Anchorage area.
Last summer, he was named an all-star in the league while playing for the Anchorage Bucs, and he called the experience “awesome.”
“There’s a ton of great players, and the outdoors up there is pretty amazing, with sunlight 23 hours a day,” he said. “It took a little getting used to, but I want to go back. I had a blast.”
He then would return to Texas State, needing just two semesters to finish his degree. He could be drafted again next year, with even more options in hand. And he’ll need them: Statistics show that somewhere between 5 percent and 6 percent of players chosen in the draft ever play in the major leagues.
“What Paul was smart enough to understand was that baseball was something he was passionately involved with and wants to succeed at,” Harrington said. “(He can) look at the grand scheme and see that if it doesn’t work out, he needs something to assure that he can make a living down the road.
“A lot of young people don’t see what’s far down the road; they see what’s right in front of them.”