PITTSBURGH – Carson-Newman catcher Ethan Goforth became the third Eagle in the last two years to hear his name called on draft day as the Pittsburgh Pirates selected the backstop in the 25th round, 754th overall Wednesday in the 2019 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
"Getting drafted means everything to me," Goforth said. "It's been a dream since I was a kid but I wouldn't be anywhere near this without my family, my coaches, my teammates and my friends. Talons Up!"
He is the 21st person and 22nd selection (John Rohde was taken twice during his C-N career) in the history of the C-N baseball program and ninth player during the Division II era, since 1994.
After Brett Langhorne (Atlanta Braves) and Will Gardner (Pirates) were taken in the 2018 draft, the Eagles have selections in two-straight seasons for the first time since 1996 and 1997. Scott May was taken in 1996 while Julio Guzman and Derrick Lankford punched their tickets a year later.
Goforth is the fourth catcher to be taken out of Carson-Newman joining William Wright (1967), Paul Bostic (1971) and May. The Blacksburg, Va. native will join a list of Pirates picks from Mossy Creek becoming the sixth to join the franchise. Gardner, Goforth's teammate in 2018, is with the unit's A-team in Greensboro where he has a 0.84 ERA in six outings.
"We are very happy for Ethan and his family," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "He has worked extremely hard and been a great leader for our program on and off of the field. His skills behind the plate and the energy that he plays with will serve him well professionally."
On the diamond, Goforth was a unanimous all-region pick in 2019, two-time All-South Atlantic Conference selection and a two-time SAC all-defensive team pick. For his career, he posted a .342 batting average with 13 home runs, 76 RBIs, 116 runs scored and 32 stolen bases. Almost all of that damage came during the final two seasons in Jefferson City.
After a part-time role in 2016, Goforth played nearly every inning over his final two seasons earning second-team All-SAC honors and a spot on the defensive team as a sophomore posting a .318 batting average finishing fourth in the league in stolen bases with 17 and sixth in doubles with 19.
This season proved to be an elite season earning all-region selections from the ABCA, D2CCA and NCBWA while being a first-team All-SAC pick and an all-defensive team honoree. He was the fourth C-N catcher to earn a spot on the first team all-conference and first since Matt Harper in 1998. After being a second team pick in 2018, he is the second catcher is school history to be a two-time All-SAC selection joining Wes Ward who was a two-time second-team honoree in 2002 and 2003.
The Virginia native was on the defensive list for the second year in-a-row becoming the first Eagle to do that since the inception of the honors at the beginning of the decade. He is the third Eagle to be a first-team selection and defensive team pick in the same year joining pitcher Robby Thigpen in 2012 and Roberts in 2016. In his time, he caught 32 of 60 would-be base stealers gunning down 16 of the 38 attempts in 2019.
The Blacksburg, Va. native put together one of the best years in recent memory with a .376 batting average, 11 homers, 42 RBIs, 70 runs scored and 15 stolen bases. Those numbers put him in the top 10 in average, homers and runs scored, where he led the country during the regular season. His 70 tally is good for third on the school's all-time runs scored list, three behind the program record of 73 set by Shap Stiles in 1999 and Jim Higgins in 2002.
The junior went 0-for-4 in the first game of 2019 and did not see his average dip below .357 since the opening series. The junior's 15-game hitting streak from March 19-April 15 was the longest by an Eagle since Paul Kirby hit safely in 16 in 2017. During that span, he went 27-56 with three long balls, 12 RBIs, 24 runs with eight multi-hit games. The right-handed hitter was hit by 22 pitches this season to reset the school record that was previously 14.
While he did not see time on the diamond as a freshman in 2015, he punted four times for the football program and was the holder for all-region kicker Carson Wise.
Goforth is expected to be assigned to the Appalachian League this summer and play for the Bristol Pirates. The season is slated to open on June 18 with a home game against Burlington.
- CN -