Sunday, May 18, 2014

Random Prospect Sunday: Phil Gosselin

Over the last two summers, I have tried to pay attention to the non-prospects with this column. With the help of random.org's number generator, I would get a random number that would help me land on a player in the Braves system. I called the column "Random Prospect of the Day," which didn't make a bunch of sense considering I only did the column once a week on Sundays. With that in mind, I'm going to alter the title of the article to be more representative of what this column does. For the most part, the players selected over the last two years were organizational filler. Occasionally, there would be a real prospect. Today, we get a new type of a player. A guy who has already made it to the bigs and is looking to get back. To look back at the previous columns, feel free to click here.

Credit: AP
Philip Gosselin, middle name David, was born on October 3rd, 1988. On the previous day, the Braves had finished a 54-106 campaign that saw them lose 1-0 in Cincinnati. The Braves would finish 39.5 games back. Gosselin was born in West Chester, Pennslyvania and eventually attended Malvern Prep High School, where former Padres catcher Ben Davis went to school. Undrafted out of high school, Gosselin went south to the University of Virginia and slashed .305/.391/.433 in his freshman season, though he wasn't an everyday player. That changed in his sophomore season where he slashed .310/.405/.475 with 24 steals. "The Goose" was a regular around the field, playing second, short, and in the outfield. He also achieved some success when that May, he destroyed a first-pitch fastball from Stephen Strasburg. Gosselin turned on the 97 mph pitch and UVA handed Strasburg his only loss of 2009.

The following season, 2010, saw Gosselin become a draft-able prospect. He finished his junior season by hitting .382/.466/.622 with 22 2B, 11 HR, and 18 steals. Gosselin also settled into a regular position for the first time, becoming the regular second-sacker for the Cavs. His strong campaign gave him a possible third round grade, but the Braves selected him with their fifth round pick, the 164th overall selection. Gosselin signed for a $150,000 bonus rather than return to UVA. Later, Gosselin would become the fifth pick from the 2010 draft to get to the bigs for Atlanta, though only 2nd rounder Andrelton Simmons and 23rd rounder Evan Gattis have stuck.

Gosselin would be assigned to Rome, skipping past stops at the Braves' rookie teams. Again, he settled into a regular at 2B, hitting .294 over 57 games for R-Braves with 9 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, and 7 steals. He also on-based .374. In their final season with the Braves, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans needed an extra middle infielder over the last week so Gosselin finished up 2010 with a week at the beach.

The former UVA product would remain at high-A, this time with the Braves new minor league affiliate, the Lynchburg Hillcats. He was the everyday guy at second, though he committed 17 errors. He finished .264/.324/.392, a letdown after his solid 2010 summer. Things didn't get any better in 2012, this time with Mississippi, when he slashed .242/.317/.320, though he set a personal best with 12 steals. He also began to log time in the outfield, possibly beginning to grow into his possible utility role.

2013 was hardly an impressive season for Gosselin. He hit just .243/.291/.312 over 59 games with Mississippi, but was still promoted to Gwinnett in June of that season, where he would improve his numbers only slightly. He was used slightly more as a utility guy as well. Mixed in during his summer with Gwinnett was a trip to Atlanta to replace Tyler Pastornicky, who had been ran over by Jason Heyward. Gosselin played in four games with the Braves, including one start at second, and went 2 for 6 with a walk and 2 K's. Unfortunately, he missed Strasburg's start. He played in the game, but that was the day Strasburg hit Justin Upton and threw behind Simmons before getting ejected in the second.

The Goose was out-righted off the 40-man roster after the season, but stayed in the system to rejoin Gwinnett. Through May 16th, the results have been the best of his professional career. Coming into Saturday's games, Gosselin was hitting .331/.358/.437 with 11 doubles. He also totally became a utility player off the bench. So far this season, he has been a regular at second, third, short, and left.

At his best, Gosselin is a contact hitter relying on grinding out hits. At his worst, he is organizational filler and a good character guy. He possibly could develop into a nice utility guy off the bench, a 25th man who, with a good BABIP, will stick around for a year or two, especially on an AL bench.

And with the way the Braves aren't hitting, maybe the Braves could use Gosselin.

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