WASHINGTON — Nationals fans are getting to know Brian Goodwin, the long-hyped outfield prospect who has finally made his way to the big league roster.
After exploding offensively at Triple-A Syracuse in 2016 — hitting .280 with 14 home runs, 68 RBI, 15 stolen bases and 46 walks — the former first-round pick (34th overall, 2011) earned his first big league promotion last fall.
Goodwin, 26, is hitting .262 with three doubles, one triple, a home run and six RBI in his limited plate appearances (45) for the Nationals this season, and filled in nicely while Bryce Harper was serving a three-game suspension, hitting his first triple and homer in one game against Oakland.
He’s only stolen one base for the Nats in 2017, but as someone who’s swiped bags in the double digits in all but one minor league season, he’s used frequently as a pinch runner for a reason.
Goodwin was the focal point of the Burke & Herbert Bank Fan Question of the Week during GM Mike Rizzo’s weekly appearance with The Sports Junkies.
Brian Goodwin provided a spark during Bryce’s suspension. Is there a daily role going forward for him? — Larry in Seabrook
“Goody’s got the skill set and the talent to be an everyday player in the big leagues and he just has not had the opportunity to do so in his career with us here,” Rizzo said.
“Unfortunately, some of these good players, the biggest problem they have is they have options to go to the minor leagues,” he added. “And that’s been the situation with Goody — he’s got options and whenever we get loaded up on the big league roster, he’s the one that has to go because he’s the only one that can go down.”
Goodwin’s first Major League campaign went about as well as it could have gone. He slashed .286/.318/.429 with four doubles, one triple, five RBI and two walks. But his season didn’t end in October with the rest of the club. He rounded off the year by playing 25 games in the Mexican Pacific Winter League, where he hit an additional six doubles, two triples and two homers with 11 RBI, one stolen base and seven walks, while slashing .313/.350/.455.
While Goodwin’s always been good against right-handed pitching, Rizzo noted his improvement against lefties, something he’ll need in his toolkit to eventually become an everyday player.
“You’re talking about a left-handed hitter that can really play defense in three positions,” Rizzo said. “The guy’s got some pop, he can really run, he plays good defense and he’s learning to hit against both lefties and righties.”
“I think his role is gonna be he’s got a place on this team,” he added. “And I think we’ve just got to figure out what he’s best suited to do, but we feel that he has a skill set to be an everyday player.”