Hitting always has been one of Will Golsan’s strengths.
Whether it was at New Hope High School in Columbus or at Ole Miss, Golsan displayed a knack for getting a timely hit and reaching base.
Some things don’t get lost in translation, as evidenced by Golsan’s single in his first at-bat Saturday night as a member of the Grand Junction Rockies, the Rookie League affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies. The hit was part of a 2-for-5 evening against the Orem Owlz in his professional debut in the Pioneer League.
“It was cool. I got to first base and the first base coach said congratulations,” Golsan said. “It is a special thing. It kind of didn’t hit me until later that night that I am playing pro ball and I got a hit in my first at-bat.”
Golsan didn’t get the ball from his first hit, but he did collect a ball from his first at-bat. He said his host father was in the right place to collect a foul ball from the at-bat. Golsan said he signed to ball to commemorate what he hopes is the first of many hits.
Golsan, who started in center field in his debut, led off and singled to right field on a 3-2 count for his initial hit. He added a line-drive single to left-center field for his other hit.
Colorado chose Golsan, a 6-foot-1, 185-pounder, with the 786th pick (26th round). Earlier this month, Golsan capped a four-year career at Ole Miss by hitting .304 with 75 hits and 104 total bases. He played an integral role in Ole Miss winning the Southeastern Conference Western Division and the SEC tournament title.
Golsan, who was a team captain and started in center field, was a Senior CLASS Award candidate and had 13 doubles, two triples, and four home runs. He drove in 48 runs and was the team leader in two-out RBIs. He also earned SEC all-tournament team honors after hitting over .400 to fuel the team’s conference title run.
Golsan finished his career as Ole Miss’ all-time leader with 885 at-bats. He finished fifth all-time in hits (261). Consistency was one of Golsan’s trademarks, as he started 45 of 53 games as a freshman. He went on to start 228 of 237 games in his career.
As a junior at New Hope High, Golsan hit a team-best .541 with 18 doubles, three home runs, and 21 RBIs. He also was 3-0 with a 0.81 earned run average and 44 strikeouts. His performance helped him earn Class 5A Player of the Year honors from the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA). As a senior, Golsan hit .398 with 19 RBIs, seven doubles, four triples and 42 runs scored. For his career, he was a .416 hitter with four home runs, 59 RBIs, 34 doubles, six triples, and 113 runs. He played an integral role in leading New Hope High to the program’s first back-to-back state titles (Class 5A) in 2013 and 2014.
Golsan said he didn’t hire an agent to negotiate a contract with the Rockies. He declined to discuss the deal he signed June 11, but he said it was a fair offer for a senior coming out of college who really didn’t have any leverage. Golsan said he knew he wanted to continue playing baseball, so he realized the chance to sign with the Rockies was an ideal opportunity for him to raise his profile and to prove he can play in the professional ranks.
“It has been cool to think back (to his younger days),” Golsan said. “I have gotten text messages from old coaches and high school and summer ball coaches, all of the people who put in the time and effort, including my mom and my dad, to help me to get where I am. It is really a blessing.”
Golsan said he hasn’t had an opportunity to reflect on his success at Ole Miss. He takes pride in the fact he played four different positions in four years in Oxford. Shortstop, his primary position at New Hope, wasn’t one of them. Golsan feels his future will be in the outfield. He started 53 games in right field and three more in center field as a junior before taking over in center field in his final season.
Golsan understands it is on him now that he is a pro. He said players are responsible for getting workouts in before they report to the field for hitting, defensive work, and other training. Golsan said sticking to a routine will help him make all of the adjustments he will face in the minor leagues.
As for hitting, the biggest transition Golsan said he will have to make is learning to hit consistently with a wood bat.
“I knew it was going to be almost exactly like SEC play with power arms with good stuff,” Golsan said of the adjustment to minor league pitchers. “The wood bats are a little heavier and a little longer. I am going to have to work on my timing. Being a little late on fastballs (in his first game), I need to have a quicker approach and get stronger and handle the bat better.
“I have to figure out my routine and stick to it. I am going out there and playing the game the right way. That is what pro ball is about: having a routine and sticking to it.”
Tommy Golsan, Will’s father, said he and his wife, Sondra, and the rest of their family will do their best to follow the Grand Junction Rockies any way they can. He also envisions some trips out west to see Will play in the eight-team Pioneer League, which also has teams in Montana, Idaho, and Utah.
“I am under the inclination that based on where he came from and what he has done with his experience it is not going to take as much as high school guys or guys who don’t have as much experience to progress pretty quickly up to A or advanced A,” Tommy Golsan said. “That’s what we hope.”
Golsan didn’t play Sunday in Grand Junction’s 7-3 loss to Orem. It is scheduled to play Orem again Monday. The games are part of a stretch of 24-straight play days for the team. July 9 is Grand Junction’s next scheduled “off” day.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.