MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Nats hopeful Goodwin takes next step

Highly touted prospect is coming off a promising winter-ball campaign in Venezuela

Nats hopeful Goodwin takes next step

WASHINGTON -- After being chosen as a compensation pick in the 2011 MLB Draft and receiving a $3 million signing bonus, outfielder Brian Goodwin was projected to be the Nationals' leadoff hitter of the future.

But a left shoulder injury and some struggles in the field have left Goodwin's future a little less clear. During his four years in professional baseball, the left-handed hitter has a .251 batting average with 44 home runs, 201 RBIs and a .345 on-base percentage. After being listed by MLB.com as one of the Nationals' top five prospects in 2012, Goodwin was most recently listed as the 24th-best prospect in the organization.

However, a strong campaign in the Venezuelan Winter League has rekindled some optimism for Goodwin, who reached Triple-A in 2014 but has yet to play in the Major Leagues.

Assistant general manager Doug Harris acknowledged recently that Goodwin needs to step up his game, and he and the organization are working to help make that happen. After the 2015 season came to an end, Goodwin spent time with Minor League hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich, studying the fundamentals of hitting. Those lessons paid off for Goodwin in Venezuela this offseason, as he hit .310 with a .394 on-base percentage in 23 games for Bravos de Margarita.

"Brian really bought into what Troy was trying to accomplish and understanding the detail, the retention and some of the important aspects of being a good hitter," Harris said. "He went to Venezuela and really played well. He hit for some power and defended well. I'm hopeful that carries over. He is at a point in his career where he understands it's time to step up. He gets that, and he is up for the challenge."

Goodwin is still on Washington's 40-man roster and will be with the big league team during Spring Training.

"He needs to understand where he needs to be with his body in relation to his approach, his ability to track the baseball," Harris said about what Goodwin needs to do during Spring Training. "He did a nice job of applying those things in Venezuela. We hope for him to carry that over this year. We want him repeat his approach offensively."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.