PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - University of California San Diego redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Kyle Goodbrand has agreed to terms with the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball (MLB). The Mission Viejo native signed his first professional contract on Wednesday, July 5.
Goodbrand thus forgoes his final year of college eligibility and will not return to the Tritons for a second season in the spring of 2018. He was the Rays' 36th-round selection, pick No. 1069, during the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft on June 14. The deadline to negotiate contract terms and make a decision was last Friday, July 7.
Goodbrand has remained in Port Charlotte, Fla., at Tampa Bay's spring training facility, and begins his pro career with the rookie Gulf Coast League (GCL) Rays. He made his debut on Monday afternoon, throwing a scoreless eighth with a walk and his first professional strikeout, in a 5-3 loss at the GCL Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla.
Goodbrand graduated from Tesoro High School in 2013, before stops, in succession, at Arizona State University, Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College, prior to his arrival in La Jolla last fall. He was an integral component, as a starter and closer during parts, of the Tritons' run to the NCAA Division II West Region title and an NCAA Championship national runner-up showing, both for the first time since 2010.
Goodbrand bookended his one-year UCSD career with a pair of scoreless efforts. He fired 4.0 frames to earn the save in his Triton debut on Opening Day on Feb. 3 against Concordia (OR), retiring 12 of the 14 batters he faced with just a double and hit-by-pitch allowed, while fanning four. He said goodbye via five-hit shutout with four walks and six strikeouts in a 10-0 elimination-game triumph over No. 16 St. Thomas Aquinas (NY) at the NCAA Championship in Grand Prairie, Texas, on June 1.
Over the postseason, Goodbrand went 3-0 over his three starts and added a save in his lone relief appearance while posting an impressive 1.08 ERA, with four runs given up, three of them earned, and 18 strikeouts in 25.0 innings pitched. He took a no-hitter into the eighth in an elimination game at the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship in Stockton on May 12 before surrendering a one-out single. He threw 6.2 strong frames with a season-high seven strikeouts against ninth-ranked host Azusa Pacific on May 20 to put UCSD in the West Regional finals. Goodbrand provided two scoreless innings for an elimination-game save in his initial Texas outing, against No. 14 Quincy (IL) on May 30.
For the season, Goodbrand led the Tritons with his 2.32 ERA and miniscule .185 opponents' batting average. He went 6-0 with three saves, tied for the team lead. Ten of Goodbrand's 15 appearances were starting assignments, with 28 walks and just 48 hits against, and 52 strikeouts over 73.2 innings. He garnered All-CCAA honorable mention and a spot on the CCAA Championship All-Tournament Team.
Goodbrand ranked fourth in the CCAA and 45th nationally in ERA, with his team-best 1.03 WHIP good enough for third in the league and 30th in Division II. He was second in the CCAA and 12th in the country at 5.86 hits allowed per nine innings.
"It was a surreal feeling," remarked Goodbrand via email about signing. "The Tampa Bay Rays are a very impressive organization, and they really made me feel at home. I couldn't be more excited for this journey God has placed before me, with the opportunity to play for this organization and have a future in professional baseball.
"My time as a Triton was short, but I can honestly say it was the most fun I had throughout my college career. Everyone, from the coaching staff to the players, made my experience unforgettable, and I will always be a part of the Triton family!"
UC San Diego went 44-19 overall in 2017, achieving the second-most wins in program history, behind only the 54 from 2010, when the Tritons won their second consecutive West Region crown and also were national runners-up.
Goodbrand's older brother, Ryan, was the Tritons' ace in 2012 and 2013. He is the second member of the 2017 UCSD squad to ink a pro contract, as star four-year outfielder Jack Larsen joined the Seattle Mariners organization as a free agent on June 19. Former right-handed pitching aces Justin Donatella (Visalia Rawhide, Class A Advanced, Arizona Diamondbacks) and Tim Shibuya (Tulsa Drillers, Double-A, Los Angeles Dodgers) are two other former Tritons known to be playing professional baseball. Shibuya came within a strike of a nine-inning no-hitter for the Drillers in Midland, Texas, on Monday, July 3, settling for a one-hit shutout (BB, 6 K) in a 3-0 win. Following six more scoreless frames (7 H, 0 BB, K) in another victory Saturday, this time at home against Midland, he is the Texas League Pitcher of the Week.