Brian Goodwin: A Closer Look At The Nats’ Future Center Fielder
The Washington National’s farm system may not be as stacked as it was a few years ago, but it undoubtedly remains the backbone of the team’s future. It seems like every year the Nationals have a new wave of prospects ready to break into the Majors and take the league by a storm, just as Bryce Harper did in 2012. Though he hasn’t garnered anywhere near as much attention as Harper, the Nationals are developing another outfielder who is just as vital to the team’s future. His name is Brian Goodwin, and he may very well be the team’s next superstar.
During his days at Rocky Mount High School in North Carolina, Goodwin had already caught the eyes of Major League scouts who knew that the young left-hander could turn into something special. Goodwin hit .473 in his senior year and was named North Carolina’s 2008 Player of the year. Goodwin also led Rocky Mount to the 2008 North Carolina 3-A state title and was named MVP of the state tournament. Goodwin’s high school performance was phenomenal, and he was only getting started.
Goodwin was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2009, but he did not sign and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill instead. He then transferred to Miami Dade College where he further cemented his place as one of the top rising stars in the game. Goodwin batted .382 with 11 doubles, two triples, eight home runs and 42 runs scored in 47 games with the Sharks in 2011. The young outfielder also showed his leadoff hitting potential by posting a .492 on-base percentage and stealing 16 bases for the Sharks.
The Nationals drafted Goodwin with the 34th overall pick in the 2012 First Year Player Draft. General manager Mike Rizzo saw Goodwin as the team’s center fielder and leadoff hitter of the future and jumped at the opportunity; signing him to a $3 million dollar contract.
Goodwin, 23, has made his way up the Nationals’ system, finishing last season with Double-A Harrisburg in the Eastern League. Goodwin has become one of the team’s top prospects; hitting 45 doubles and scoring 146 runs in his first two professional seasons. Goodwin’s quick hands help him hit line-drives all over the ballpark and his power will develop over time. Goodwin is also incredibly fast and has the potential to steal 40 to 50 bases per season. Combined with an athletic 6-foot-1 frame, Goodwin’s speed allows him to track down balls all over the outfield and he has a strong right-handed throwing arm; making him an elite center fielder.
The Nationals’ prized prospect is incredibly advanced after just two professional seasons, but he’s not perfect. Goodwin struggled against lefties last year, hitting .204 as opposed to .272 versus righties. If Goodwin is going to be the team’s everyday leadoff hitter he will also have to improve his .252 batting average and cut down on strikeouts- he struck out 121 times in 2013. These are minor issues considering Goodwin’s immense upside and they can be easily resolved with one more year of polishing in the minors.
Goodwin will likely start the 2014 season with Triple-A Syracuse and could be ready for the big leagues as early as 2015. The timing could not be any better for the Nationals as center fielder Denard Span could become a free agent after the 2014 season. Goodwin’s development figures to have a strong influence on whether or not the Nationals pick up Span’s $9 million option for 2015.
There’s no denying that the Nationals have found another potential superstar in Brian Goodwin. Some members of the media have even gone as far as saying that Goodwin could become the next Mike Trout. Whether or not Goodwin will live up to his lofty expectations remains to be seen, but he certainly appears to be on the fast track to the big leagues.
By Pablo Roa of @themlbtalk101