No offseason: Goodrum shines in Venezuela in bid for The Show

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Above, Niko Goodrum gets ready for a game in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. Right, his Caribes de Anzoategui helmet and jersey will hang at Elite Metro Sports in Fayetteville.

jerseyFor Niko Goodrum, the hopeful road to the Major Leagues runs through Venezuela.
Goodrum, a Fayette County High School graduate, was drafted in the second round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins. He’s worked his way up through five teams in the Twins organization with invites to Spring Training, but he’s still searching for that call up to The Show.
After battling back from injury early in the year, Goodrum rebounded to hit .275 with seven home runs, 33 RBI, and nine stolen bases in 55 games, mostly for the AA Chattanooga Lookouts. While most players were resting this offseason, Goodrum was busy, suiting up for Caribes de Anzoategui of the in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League.
“It was something I needed to do,” said Goodrum, who had the blessing of the Twins to head south for the winter. “I needed those at bats just to add to this year from what I missed (due to injury). I’d heard you get better playing there, and that’s all I want to do. I want to get better.”
Puerto la Cruz is a long way from Fayetteville, but the baseball diamond is always comfortable.
“Just being in another country is different, with the way they do things. That was a total eye opener, but as far as baseball, the game is the same,” said Goodrum.
Playing in Venezuela also put the game more in perspective. Usually English is the language in the locker room, but he got to feel what it’s like to be on the other side of the barrier. He also saw what it’s like being in a country battling economic troubles. For security reasons, the team travelled with a full police escort, even on five-hour long bus rides. No matter what, the fans showed up and showed out. The large crowds make every game feel like a playoff game.
“The intensity is there. Every game counts. If you’re not performing, they’ll send you home.”
Goodrum definitely performed. In his month and a half in Venezuela, he hit .284.
“The baseball is very good. The pitching is unbelievable,” said Goodrum, who focused most on the mental side of the game, specifically making in-game adjustments.
The pitching was top notch, but it was something different entirely that posed the toughest challenge.
“The biggest thing I had to adjust to was the food. The first week there, the food tore up my stomach pretty bad,” remembered Goodrum. “The food is different. the water is different. You had to find what your stomach can take and stick to it. For me, it was chicken.”
He lost weight while he was playing down there, and regaining that is his first goal of the offseason. He’ll be kicking off his throwing program soon and reporting to Twins camp in early February in preparation for Spring Training.
“No vacation. No time off. I’m really going to get after it.”
There’s no resting for Niko Goodrum. He’s on his way to The Show.

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About

Christopher Dunn has been the sports editor for Fayette Newspapers since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Game Day magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.


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