SCOTTSDALE, Az. — Ryan Goins is hungry for Toronto, and it’s not because he had Cora’s for breakfast on his last trip to the city.
The Blue Jays invited Goins to Toronto in September to be presented with the Webster Award for Most Valuable Player, an honour for his role with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, their Double-A affiliate.
Now that he’s been on the Rogers Centre turf for the first time, his drive to get a call-up is the only thing on his mind while he’s playing for the Salt Rivers Rafters at Arizona Fall League.
“It’s what I’ve dreamed about doing since I was four or five years old,” the 24-year-old said. “I tasted it at big league camp last year, and then getting up to Toronto and seeing the city, it makes you more hungry to want to get there faster.”
Hunger pangs aside, Goins has flown under the radar where he’s quietly made his mark on the Jays minor league system since being selected by the Blue Jays in the fourth round in 2009.
“I don’t read into prospect status or anything. I just try to do what I can do everyday and not worry about who’s talking about me,” he said.
As the Fisher Cats’ everyday shortstop in 2012, Goins didn’t waste any opportunities to make an impact, batting .289 with 158 hits in 136 games.
His hit total tied a franchise record, and represented the most ever by a left-handeder. He stole a career-high 15 bases, and went long seven times, driving in 61.
It’s been a seamless transition from the East Coast for Goins, as John Nunnally, New Hampshire’s hitting coach, also joined the Salt River Rafters in Scottsdale this fall.
“We’re doing the same stuff that we did during the season out here,” the Texan said. “(John) already knows where I’m at and what I was doing, so it makes it easier to get my work done.”
With so many promising players from five different organizations on the Rafters, Goins doesn’t see as much playing time as he did in the regular season. It’s a completely different challenge to prepare for.
“Just being ready to hit. Everybody here has a good fastball, you’ve got to be on time,” the infielder said.
“Not being in the line up everyday, it’s tough to get your timing and keep your momentum. I have to be ready from pitch one whenever I do get a chance to play.”
The most prominent young players in the game during the regular season were 2011 AFL alumni, including Mike Trout, Will Middlebrooks, Aroldis Chapman, and Bryce Harper.
All but one of the Blue Jays delegates were big league call-ups in 2012.
“It’s exciting to know that the Jays aren’t afraid to bring the young guys up,” Goins said. “There are some teams who go out and get veteran after veteran and the young guys don’t get a chance.”
“Hopefully next year, if I get my opportunity, I’ll make the most of it.”