August 18, 2019

Washington Nationals 2014 Top 25 Prospects: No. 2 Brian Goodwin

In this series, District Sports Page has provide detailed scouting reports on our list of Top 25 Washington Nationals prospects. You can find our overview with the entire list here. We will now move into even further detailed reports for our Top 10.

Here’s our scouting reports on prospects Nos. 21-15, prospects Nos. 16-20 and Nos. 11-16.

And so far in the Top 10:

No. 10 Eury Perez
No. 9 Jake Johansen
No. 8 Sammy Solis
No. 7 Michael Taylor
No. 6 Zach Walters
No. 5 Steven Souza
No. 4 Drew Ward
No. 3 A.J. Cole

Now without further ado, here is prospect No. 2, outfielder Brian Goodwin.

2. Brian Goodwin
Bats: Left, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 0″, Weight: 200 lb.
Born: November 2, 1990 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, US (Age 23)
Draft: First Round (34th overall), 2011

Hitting Ability Raw Power Power Frequency Plate Discipline Speed Base Running Fielding Range Arm Strength Arm Accuracy Overall Future Potential
45/60 45/50 40/45 55/60 70/70 40/50 45/55 55/60 60/60 40/50 All-Star

Goodwin is fresh off of his second outstanding showing in the Arizona Fall League in two years. After wrapping 11 extra-base hits in his first stint there following the 2012 season (ranking him fifth best on the circuit) and making the AFL all-star team, Goodwin hit an impressive .296/.333/.444 in his second go round this winter. He also made another appearance in the Rising Stars game, though he didn’t take home the game’s MVP honors like he did in 2012.

By now, Goodwin is pretty well established atop the Nationals organization’s prospect ranks. He’s shown flashes of brilliance in the spotlight and has performed well against advanced competition. His lukewarm performance during the regular season has largely kept him from earning wider acclaim though, and he doesn’t often get included in blue-chip prospect conversation alongside outfielders like George Springer and Billy Hamilton despite showing comparable talent. His resume and his potential insist he deserves more enthusiasm about his future. He has the tools and the baseball acumen to be an All-Star, and a closer look at his play suggests he’s well on the path to realize that potential.

The Nationals snagged Goodwin in the supplemental first-round of the 2012 draft, and handed him a whopping $3 million bonus, one of the largest figures in the franchise’s rich history of wallet-busting drafts. After hitting a robust .324/.438/.542 and pushing his way up double-A Harrisburg in his first summer, and at the ripe old age of 21, Goodwin managed to look like a steal. Unfortunately, he’s since stalled a bit. He hit a much more modest .223/.306/.373 at Harrisburg to end 2012, before improving to a productive (though uninspiring) .252/.355/.407 last year.

While his numbers aren’t what you’d expect from a premium prospect, consider this: Goodwin only turned 23 in November, and 2013 was just his first full, healthy season in pro baseball. He also plays in the large-park-laden/power-sapping Eastern League, where the average player is two years his elder. In spite of all that, he still managed to post an above-average 115 wRC+ while getting good reviews for his defense at all three outfield positions.

Goodwin hasn’t been overmatched by the older, more seasoned pitching he’s faced in double-A and in the AFL.He did belt 11 triples and 40 total extra-base hits in 122 games and posted an impressive .355 on-base percentage last year against some of the best arms in the minors. His .355 OBP and .155 ISO are actually in the top 10 percent for his age group in AA, and his offense should become even more impressive considering the difficulty Harrisburg‘s ballpark poses to young hitters.

The majority of Goodwin’s trouble lays in his work against left-handed pitchers. Goodwin posted a .624 OPS vs southpaws in 2013, and has a .686 mark in his career. Against righties on the other hand, he’s raked like an All-STar, posting an .822 OPS last year and an .850 career mark. His platoon split isn’t too startling, though, as many young left-handed hitters struggle with large platoon splits as they face such a high concentration of quality southpaws in the pro’s (after seeing so few with quality stuff in amateur ball). And generally, left-handed hitters tend to have larger splits anyway. Goodwin has barely faced two full seasons of pro left-handed pitching, so there’s plenty of reason to believe that he’ll tighten it up with more experience. And even if he doesn’t, he still has the hitting prowess and on-base skills to be a quality semi-regular player.

Goodwin is essentially a six-tool player–with a nice hit tool, power, speed, defense, arm strength and solid plate discipline. His clean, fluid left-handed swing looks graceful in the box, and he generates above-average bat speed seemingly effortlessly. He’s lightning quick with the bat, able to keep his hands in and barrel premium stuff inside. When he’s seeing the ball well, he’ll wait on off-speed stuff and use his quick swipe to slash the ball the other way with authority. Against lefties, he has trouble in this area as he’s very prone to pulling off same-side breaking pitches.

Goodwin gets on-base with the best of them, and has the hit tool to continue to post high on-base percentages in the Big Leagues. His weakness against offspeed combined with his willingness to work deep counts will always lead to high strikeout totals, but he’s a tough out and shows the plus plate discipline to set the table at the top of a lineup. He also has solid home-run power, showing it off to his pull side and taking premium heat out of big ballparks. His swing generates backspin and loft, and he hits far more line drives and hard fly balls than most players with his speed. His homerun power will probably always come to his pull-side, but he laces line-drives to all fields and can punish pitches on the outside.

Goodwin has clocked 6.5-second sixty-yard dash times, which equates to elite-level speed. He’s not an effective base stealer yet, but his wheels–combined with his solid arm and great body control–make him a quality center fielder. His defensive chops are lesser than fellow Nationals outfield prospect Michael Taylor’s, but he’s a more polished all-around player and is the likelier pick as the Nationals center fielder of the future. On the basepaths, his foot speed gives him an extra gear and he’s very smooth rounding the bases. He’s adept at going first-to-third and first-to-home, and he’s able to stretching his own hits in the gap for an extra base. Similar to Denard Span and Bernie Williams, he should be a very valuable baserunner and fielder despite not having the stolen base totals that other guys with top-of-the-scale speed have. His defensive value is shaping up along the same lines. He’s not quite instinctual enough in either department to dominate, but he should almost certainly provide above-average value in both categories.

The general feeling among scouts when it comes to Goodwin is that he can do a whole lot more than he’s shown thus far, he just needs to put in the extra hours. Goodwin’s five-tool package still gives him sky-high potential. Few prospects are blessed with his outstanding baseball athleticism–the kind of skill-set that works perfectly on the diamond. But potential is potential.  He’s displaying some unsettling red flags in the box and in the field, dimming his star power. His 2014 season will be an important year for him, and he’ll need to take a step forward to show he’s the real deal, and not just a tease. First and foremost, Goodwin needs to figure out more advanced left-handed pitching to continue to profile as a plus hitter, and that means he needs to commit himself to improving his pitch selection. Too round his game as a future top-of-the-order catalyst and an asset in the outfield, he also needs polish his base running and fielding reads.

Goodwin is a possible all-star and the Nationals believe he’s their center fielder of the future. He’s right at the doorstep of the big leagues, and if he can take that final step forward at the plate, he’ll be a supremely valuable Ray Lankford-type center fielder with .350+ OBP’s to go with 15+ home run pop, plenty of extra-base hits and reliable defense.

About Ryan Kelley

Ryan Kelley is a Contributor to District Sports Page. He’s an economist by day and an aspiring journalist living in the D.C. area. Native to Connecticut, he has lived in Washington since graduating from The George Washington University and has covered Minor League Baseball and Team USA. He is founder of BaseballNewsHound.com, and specializes in prospects playing in leagues on the East Coast and in the Mid-Atlantic region. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @BBNewsHound.

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