CLEARWATER, Fla. - Tyler Goeddel spent all of last season in the major leagues. He flew on chartered planes, wore tailored suits, and slept in downtown hotels. For seven months, Goeddel was a big leaguer.
That lifestyle was put on hold Friday morning when Goeddel learned he will start the season at double-A Reading. The road back to the majors will be difficult. And the path will put him next month on a team bus that will roll to cities like Akron, Ohio and Erie, Pa.
"I'm not too happy about that but you can't control it," the 24-year-old Goeddel said after being optioned to minor-league spring training.
Goeddel is headed to Reading because there was no place for him at triple-A Lehigh Valley. Prospects Dylan Cozens, Nick Williams, and Roman Quinn will start for the IronPigs. Goeddel will likely join Carlos Tocci and Andrew Pullin at Reading. The Phillies have a solid batch of outfielders at the upper levels of the minors. Goeddel - who batted just .192 last season in 213 at-bats - could be lost in the mix.
"I know who's at Triple-A with Cozens, Williams and Quinn. But I was still surprised," Goeddel said. "They hadn't really told me anything so it was definitely surprising."
Goeddel keeps his place on the 40-man roster since he was optioned and not outrighted. But it is not yet fully secure. The Phillies will have to trim a player from the roster and hope they clear waivers for each non-roster invitee that makes the Opening Day roster. The Phillies carried Goeddel on their roster for all of last season after drafting him first overall in the Rule 5 draft. It would be surprising if they parted with him now.
The Phillies will likely take no more than two of their non-roster invitees. Adam Morgan, Alec Asher, and Luis Garcia are others than are in danger of being trimmed from the 40-man roster. Daniel Nava, Chris Coghlan, Brock Stassi, Ryan Hanigan, Pat Venditte, and Sean Burnett are all non-roster invitees with shots at cracking the Opening Day roster.
A demotion to double A will provide Goeddel with the chance to play everyday. Goeddel had a regular role for just one month last season and batted .288 in the 22-game stretch. That month of May, Goeddel said, proved to himself that he can play in the majors.
But he quickly returned to the bench. The coaching staff grew frustrated with his inability to catch up to a major-league fastball. He batted batted .234 against fastballs, according to MLB's Statcast. The only Phillies hitters with lower batting averages against fastballs were Ryan Howard (.223) and Emmanuel Burriss (.161).
"When you know you're in there every day it's a little different mindset coming to the field. At the same time, my swing was feeling good that month so it was easier to stay consistent," Goeddel said. "When you're not playing it's tough to lock your swing in and get your timing down. But yeah it was a learning experience."
Goeddel arrived in the majors without ever playing in triple A. He admitted it was a difficult jump. He can benefit from some more seasoning, which will get in Reading as he works to be a big leaguer again.