Brian Goodwin: Five Tool Center Fielder

Center fielder Brian Goodwin has quickly become one of the brightest lights in the Washington Nationals farm system. Goodwin tantalized amateur scouts with his tools since high school. There was  some questions about how ready he was for pro ball, but so far the Nats look like they made a shrewd investment in the talented prospect.

The Breakdown

As a North Carolina prep player Goodwin was seen as an athlete with interesting raw tools. He dropped to the 17th round anyway because of signability concerns and ended up heading to school in the Fall at UNC. Goodwin performed well for the Tar Heels and in summer ball, but was suspended for the Spring semester of his Junior year for violating university policies. This prompted him to  transfer to Miami-Dade Junior College where a strong Spring and saw his stock rise again. Enough questions remained for teams that he lasted until the 34th overall pick. Goodwin did receive a well-over-slot three million dollar bonus, though. As a professional, Goodwin has put up an impressive overall line of .272/.372/.460. He advanced to Double-A in his first pro season continues to hit well.

Goodwin displays plus bat speed and very quick hands. He whips the bat head through the zone and the barrel takes a short path to the ball. Goodwin is also a selective hitter. He sees a lot of pitches and works into deep counts. He’s not just patient but is an intelligent hitter at the plate with some idea of what he wants to accomplish. Goodwin stays back well and lets the ball travel deep. He keeps his hands inside the ball and its difficult to bust him inside. I see solid average power projection with a chance for more if he can make further refinements to his swing. The left-handed hitter has a strong frame that combined with his bat speed will lead to extra base hits, but he doesn’t always incorporate his lower half fully. He has a tendency to let his swing get overly rotational and upper body oriented. Goodwin frequently looks to pull the ball, and that leaves him vulnerable to soft and breaking stuff low on the outer half. While perhaps not quite a true “burner,” the speed is easily plus. Goodwin’s wheels shows up on the basepaths as well as in the field. Once on base, pitchers have to be aware of the constant threat of stolen bases. As you’d imagine with such speed, Goodwin projects as an above average defender in center. He shows good instincts in the outfield. Some polish is still needed, but Goodwin gets good jumps and tracks balls well. He has an above average arm

Goodwin is a true five tool center fielder. Perhaps he won’t become a true star, but the potential for it is there. Either way he’s going to be a very valuable major leaguer.

The Path to Playing Time

Even though Goodwin is flying through the minors, the outfield in D.C. is full. The Nats just committed to Denard Span in center field. Jayson Werth has a big money deal and Adam LaRoche is blocking Werth from sliding over to first base through at least next year. Bryce Harper… well… he’s Bryce Harper. With no pressing need for outfield help and the roster pretty well stacked for 2013 and 2014, Goodwin may end up spending a full year each at Double-A and Triple-A. Injury or trades could always accelerate the timeline. A debut sometime in 2014 seems reasonable. Among other Nats prospects, Eury Perez is a true centerfielder as well… but Goodwin easily projects as the superior player.

  • On 40 Man Roster: No
  • Options Remaining: 3

What to Expect

It’s not difficult to see Goodwin as an above average major leaguer at an up the middle position. He showed up to pro ball far more mature than expected, but he will need further at-bats against high minors pitching and more reps in the outfield to polish his game.

  • Mixed League Value: Strong. A .280 average and 15+ home runs is well within reach and there could be more. With such a potent bat he’ll likely hit in the middle or top of a lineup and pile up counting stats. He has the wheels for 30+ stolen bases.
  • NL Only League Value: Strong. Goodwin will fill up your statline. Not quite a top tier option, but can become a weaker OF1.
  • Ottoneu Value: Strong option. Profile for consistent Ottoneu production thanks to his well balanced skill set.
  • OBP League Value: Goodwin’s value is further increased in OBP leagues with his high walk totals.

Thanks for reading – AS

Many thanks to Jeff Dooley and the New Britain Rock Cats organization for courtesies extended

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Al Skorupa writes about baseball & baseball prospects for Bullpen Banter and Fangraphs/Rotographs. He lives in Rhode Island. He watches & videotapes a good amount of amateur and minor league baseball. You can follow him on twitter @alskor.

7 Responses to “Brian Goodwin: Five Tool Center Fielder”

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  1. Werlo says:

    1. Nice piece

    2. #23 FTW!

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  2. asaw780 says:

    Don’t forget that Ryan Zimmerman may need to move to first as well due to his increasingly poor throwing mechanics. Wouldn’t be surprised to see LaRoche traded this offseason. Werth may need to stay in the outfield.

    Span is signed through ’14 with a $9 million option for ’15; Goodwin’s most logical playing time could mean that we won’t see him as a full-time player until 2015 at the earliest, depending on Span’s status by then. My guess is that the Nats won’t deem Span to be worth the $9 mil with Goodwin in the wings, but then again, they did sign Werth to that monster deal, so I shouldn’t guess as to their intentions.

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    • Al Skorupa says:

      I thought about mentioning Zimmerman and the similar Rendon problem… but that section of writing was already getting pretty convoluted! I think you’re probably right, though as I said a few of the players discussed have had some durability issues in the past, so Goodwin may be someone they find ABs for in ’14. 2015 seems like a fine “up for good” date with a defined role.

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  3. Roger says:

    The slow adjustment to AA has been concerning. His K rate is still 26.9%. I wish the Nats hadn’t skipped him over high A.

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    • Al Skorupa says:

      You can see some of it in the video, but his pull happy tendencies create some holes in his swing that Double-A pitchers are exploiting a bit. He’s still doing pretty damn well for a guy starting his 2nd pro season at Double-A. I think this year is largely about him adjusting to the advanced breaking stuff and changeups he’s seeing at this level. I don’t really have any reservations about him making those adjustments.

      I also didn’t want to overstate it, but I do think there’s always going to be a not insignificant amount of swing and miss here. I just don’t see it as a red flag or major concern.

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  4. Al Skorupa says:

    I forgot to also thank the Washington Nationals organization for the kind treatment at their minor league facility in Viera during Spring Training. At the end of the above video I included some footage from Spring. The Nats are a class organization all the way and I was extremely impressed with the quality of instruction their coaches and staff gave to their minor leaguers. They do it right.

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