Goodwin fast becoming worthy of attention
Quick hands and even quicker legs keys for Nats' top-ranked prospect
For some reason, it seems to me that Washington Nationals outfield prospect Brian Goodwin continues to fly a bit under the radar.
While I don't believe there are any real secret, undiscovered players in professional baseball, some high-ceiling, five-tool players just get more excitement and publicity than others.
If I were a bee, I'd be buzzing around Goodwin. He's worth the noise.
Don't get me wrong. Scouts and talent evaluators have a very high regard for Goodwin's skills and upside. But we just don't read that much about him.
Goodwin played his high school baseball at Rocky Mount (N.C.) High School. He earned countless accolades and awards.
The Chicago White Sox thought enough of Goodwin to select him in the 17th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Goodwin elected to attend University of North Carolina, where he showed outstanding skill and promise.
Goodwin finished his collegiate experience at Miami Dade College. He hit .382 with 11 doubles, two triples and eight home runs prior to being selected by the Nationals as a first-round sandwich pick in the 2012 Draft.
I have been able to watch Goodwin play in two consecutive Arizona Fall League seasons. Goodwin was a major contributor to his team's success this fall while playing center field for the Mesa Solar Sox, a team loaded with exceptional prospects.
Goodwin hit .296, with 24 hits in 81 at-bats. He used his fine speed to steal three bases. He had four doubles, a triple and two home runs in a season that featured some very solid pitching. Goodwin played flawless ball in the outfield.
Goodwin has a well-proportioned, solid, 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame. He bats left-handed, but is a right-handed thrower.
Like many 23-year-old players, Goodwin's power will be his last tool to fully develop. However, with solid upper-body strength and room to grow, he should be able to improve his home run production in the future.
What Goodwin presents now is an athletic game based upon line-drive hitting from a short, compact swing. I'd like to see him use his legs and trunk more in his swing. As of now, he's very dependent upon his very quick hands and forearms to do most of the heavy lifting. That should change.
Goodwin has quick hands and feet, using both to his advantage. He gets the barrel of the bat through the ball quickly, but he doesn't always make contact.
Goodwin has work to do on recognizing pitches and being more selective as a hitter, especially against left-handed pitching. He hit only .204 against lefties last season as opposed to .272 versus righties.
This past season, his second as a professional, Goodwin was assigned to Double-A Harrisburg in the Eastern League. It was the same place he finished the previous year. He hit .252 and struck out 121 times. While he did take 66 walks, the strikeouts became an issue to be addressed.
Of his 115 hits in 2013, his extra-base hits revealed his usable speed. He had 19 doubles and 11 triples to go along with 10 home runs. Goodwin stole 19 bases. Of course, when his contact improves, those extra-base-hit numbers should escalate as well.
One factor I noticed with Goodwin is his ability to gain steam as he circles the bases. He will even take the extra base on solid defensive arms. Quick out of the batter's box, Goodwin is very well aware of the difference and impact his speed brings to the game.
Goodwin has had some minor injuries in his brief career and staying healthy will be critical to his development.
In addition to his foul-line-to-foul-line hitting ability and good speed, Goodwin plays good defense. As a center fielder, he has the ability to get a good read of the ball off the bat and he uses his speed to make up ground with good range. His arm is strong and accurate.
The Nationals are deep with quality players. The depth of the roster may permit Goodwin time to develop power and improve his contact at the plate. He is a top prospect to monitor carefully.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.