This past Saturday, Brian Goodwin stepped onto the biggest stage of his career thus far — the Arizona Fall League’s Rising Stars game — and made his presence known. In his first at bat, he turned on a Kyle Gibson fastball and hit it out of the yard. Later on, he doubled and crushed another ball on which Billy Hamilton made a great diving catch in deep CF; finishing the game 2-5. But this is just one game, let’s step back and take a look at Brian Goodwin, the baseball player.
Drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2011 draft (33rd overall) by the Washington Nationals, Goodwin was arguably the top junior college player available in that draft. Though he was not the first JC player taken in 2011 — Cory Spangenberg went 10th overall to the Padres. Goodwin fell to the supplemental round due to a supposedly high price tag and a very deep draft class, as some scouts considered him to be a top half of the first round talent. The Nationals certainly made it worth his while to sign, paying him a $3m signing bonus.
While I have not had the opportunity to write about him much yet, my fellow owners in dynasty leagues can attest to the fact that I’m one of the drivers of Goodwin’s bandwagon. Right now, I own him in three different leagues. I drafted him prior to last season in the 18-team dynasty league I discussed at the end my most recent Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster piece. I traded for him in the league which has been the focus of that series as part of a challenge trade also involving Shelby Miller and Brett Jackson, which I discussed here. And finally, I just finished participating in a dispersion draft for a new league I joined (yes, another one) and took Goodwin over the likes of Matt Barnes and Jake Odorizzi with my first pick (the minor league talent was sparce). In fact, before the 2012 season, I ranked him as the #77 OF in my Dynasty League Prospect Rankings — all of that before he had even played in a professional game.
So that leads us to the inevitable question: why? What is it about Goodwin that gets me excited as a dynasty league owner? The short answer is: everything. At the plate, Goodwin has plus bat speed, which allows him to both make strong contact in the present and give him above average power potential down the road. With that said, the potential was at least reasonably on display in his first minor league season — in 441 AB between Low-A, Double-A and the AFL, Goodwin had 14 HR and 51 XBH. On the basepaths, Goodwin has easy plus speed and projects to be a 20-30 steal threat at the major league level, with the upside for more.
The kicker with Goodwin is his plate discipline, which is a strength for him. In his first taste of pro ball at Low-A, Goodwin had 43 BB to 39 K in 216 AB, which led to a .438 OBP. His BB/K rate slipped when he was promoted to Double-A, but then again, it was a two-level jump — and his walk rate was back up in the AFL. Why this is so important to Goodwin’s future fantasy value is that if he is a .360-.370 OBP guy, he’s very likely to hit either 1st or 2nd in the Nationals lineup once he hits the majors. This is a big deal, as it would put him in position to put up very nice counting stats. Could he be the player who hits directly in front of a Harper/Zimmerman/Morse middle of the order? Absolutely.
And he could be that player as soon as the second half of this coming season. This obviously depends on what the Nationals do in free agency, but if they do not sign a Michael Bourn or B.J. Upton, they are likely to go into spring training with Bryce Harper manning CF. This leaves a number of paths to Goodwin getting a call to the majors. It could be an injury to any one of Harper, Werth, LaRoche and Morse — and the last I checked, these weren’t exactly the greatest bastions of health.
More realistically, Goodwin should be penciled into the Nationals lineup starting in the first half of 2014. And his solid plate discipline should give him a better chance to succeed in his first taste of the majors than prospects without that profile. In his prime, you’re looking at a potential 20-20 threat on an annual basis who won’t hurt you in batting average. If you’re talking about a stat line, something like .270/.360/.450 sounds realistic if he becomes the player he is capable of.
So why is Goodwin not getting more love in dynasty leagues? He was not a high draft pick, he’s overshadowed in a system full of crazy upside talents like Harper/Rendon and he hasn’t been on the scene for very long. But don’t let that fool you, he is going to be an easy top-50 prospect for me when my ranks come out later this off-season and the time to sneak him by your fellow league owners is running out. Saturday certainly didn’t help his under the radar status, but Goodwin has more helium in his back pocket. There are still some good seats available on this bandwagon.