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Baseball: Former Buckeye Brad Goldberg eyes first chance at majors

Former Ohio State baseball player Brad Goldberg addresses the crowd at the 2017 Meet the Team night on Feb. 4. Credit: Edward Sutelan | Lantern reporter

As former Ohio State baseball pitcher Brad Goldberg took the stage to speak at Meet the Team Night on Feb. 4, he looked out over the podium and saw many familiar faces from a time not too long ago.

Former teammates and coaches, family and friends, academic advisors and athletic staff members had all gathered to hear him speak. In his speech, reflecting on his time as a member of the OSU baseball family, Goldberg had one piece of advice for those still playing baseball at OSU.

“To the current players, some of which, believe it or not, I played with here, I envy each and every one of you,” Goldberg said. “There has been recent talk of football players skipping out on their bowl games to go pro. And I’m thinking to myself, how much fun would it be to get to don the Scarlet and Gray again. Do not take throwing that uniform on lightly.”

It’s been about four years since Goldberg last wore those colors when taking the field. Since then, he has been drafted by the Chicago White Sox, pitched for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, contributed to Team Israel’s success in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers and is now set to begin the 2017 season in Glendale, Arizona, after receiving his first-ever Spring Training invite as a member of the White Sox 40-man roster.

But the path to success has not always been so perfectly carved out for Goldberg.

When originally looking at where to pitch collegiately, he was not given an offer to OSU and instead opted to pitch for Coastal Carolina. After two years of pitching for the Chanticleers, Goldberg was given a chance to pitch for the Buckeyes by the new head coach of OSU baseball, Greg Beals. The Cleveland native deemed the decision to transfer to Columbus to be a “no-brainer.”

“There’s a certain sense of pride playing for the Buckeyes when you grow up in Ohio,” Goldberg said. “I felt like I was coming back to Ohio to compete for the pride of the state. I wanted to be closer to my family and ultimately make them proud, it felt like home.”

Then a few obstacles found their way in front of Goldberg’s chance to begin competing. First, he was required to redshirt his junior season per NCAA rules as a Division-I transfer.

Then just as Goldberg thought he’d begin his Buckeye career in his redshirt junior season, another rule prevented him from taking the field. Due to a combination of unusable credits from his previous major and non-transferrable credits from Coastal Carolina, Goldberg failed to meet the NCAA’s academic requirements for someone his age and was prohibited from playing in the 2012 baseball season.

Goldberg was able to take the field for the Buckeyes after those two years of ineligibility. He started against St. John’s down in Sarasota, Florida, where he delivered seven shutout innings, surrendering only two hits and two walks while striking out seven. That day was important for Goldberg and two things stand out in his memory.

“Coach Beals had a routine. I don’t know if he does it anymore, of hugging all the starters,” Goldberg said. “I had never gotten a good-luck hug from him before. I’d seen him do it for two years and, as weird as it sounds, I was really ready for a good-luck hug.”

“I was not ready for him to yank me after 80 pitches through seven shutout innings though. It’s OK, we got the win.”

That season, Goldberg finished with a 2.99 ERA across 81.1 innings pitched in 15 starts for the team in his final season of eligibility. He struck out 68 and walked 46 while allowing an opponent’s batting average of .240.

Though the numbers weren’t glamorous, Goldberg attracted the eyes of scouts. He possessed a 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame, a blistering fastball that touched the mid-90s with reliable breaking stuff to compliment the heater.

The Chicago White Sox took notice of the young flame-thrower and selected him 303rd overall in the 10th round of the 2013 draft.

He reported immediately to the White Sox Rookie League and before the season had ended, he had reached Class-A Advanced Winston-Salem. He remained at that level until 2016 when he was promoted to Double-A Birmingham where he made only four appearances before being promoted to Triple-A Charlotte.

Once the 2016 season had wrapped up, White Sox management announced that Goldberg had been added to their 40-man roster, giving him an opportunity in Spring Training to earn a spot on their active roster.

“It was big,” Goldberg said of his promotion. “Essentially, nothing has changed for me immediately, but a little bit more security and obviously that means that they like me. They drafted me, I’ve only been with them, so that’s the only way I know is the White Sox way. I enjoy it and it’s an organization littered with great people, and I’ve learned so much from them and only them at the professional level.”

After the 2016 season ended, Goldberg received an invitation to compete on Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers. Goldberg appeared in the first and second games of the qualifying tournament, picking up saves against both Great Britain in the preliminaries and Brazil semifinals. Goldberg and the rest of Team Israel were able to qualify for their first World Baseball Classic trip.

“It was really something special and something I’ll have with me the rest of my life,” Goldberg said.

Beals cited Goldberg’s recent accomplishments with the WBC and the White Sox as a few things that would hopefully hit home with his players at the Meet the Team Night.

“Well (the success) is the reason we invited Brad to speak (Saturday at the dinner),” Beals said. “The successes he’s had, the opportunity he had to represent Israel in the World Baseball Classic prelims, the opportunity to go to Spring Training with the White Sox and what we’re hoping is a great opportunity to make the big league team, to make the Major Leagues. Goldy’s worked really hard, he’s a Buckeye through and through.”

With pitchers and catchers reporting to the White Sox Spring Training on Feb. 14 at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona, Goldberg said he is excited to head out and have an opportunity to impress at his first Spring Training.

“I’ll be out of here in a couple of days, get out of this cold weather and try to go make a difference,” Goldberg said.

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