MANCHESTER -- WHEN you’re labeled a “five-tool” player, expectations can be long and patience from those on the outside can be short.
Washington Nationals top prospect Brian Goodwin has been developing — slowly, some would say — but the development is there, according to the player himself and his manager with Double-A Harrisburg, Matt Lecroy.
“I’ve been pleased with his effort and how he plays. He’s got tremendous talent and skill level. It’s good to see him starting to put it all together,” said Lecroy, whose Senators played the Fisher Cats Monday night at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. “His skill level is off the charts. He can throw, run, hit. It’s good to see him starting to put it together at the right time.”
A center fielder, Goodwin is just 22 and hails from Rocky Mount, N.C. He played at Miami Dade South and was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 17th round of the 2009 amateur draft. In his first full season of Double-A ball, Goodwin is hitting just .251 and has struck out 101 times, but was an Eastern League all star. He has seven home runs, 28 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.
Goodwin is not oblivious to the expectations placed on him due to the “top prospect” label, but says his own standards are what drive him.
“A lot of times, my expectations for myself are higher than (other people’s) are. It’s harder for me to please myself than maybe some other people,” Goodwin said. “By the time I meet my expectations, I’ve met everybody’s expectations so I don’t let it affect me too much.”
According to Lecroy, Goodwin’s improvement from the end of last season, when he spent the last six weeks with Harrisburg, to where he is now is significant. His commitment and maturity have helped, said Lecroy. Goodwin’s base-running needed work and that has improved, said Lecroy, and his approach at the plate has also been better.
“The biggest thing for him is having a plan before he goes to the (batter’s) box. His work before the game, his routine … he’s developed a routine,” Lecroy said. “He’s making more consistent contact and has a better approach with two strikes. He’s challenged himself to become better in all those aspects and he’s made some really big strides.”
Goodwin said that just getting experience at this level has been a major factor in his development.
“I think the game is becoming a little bit simpler based on me not having to think as much. It’s starting to come more naturally,” Goodwin said. “I can kind of play because now I’ve been in some situations I hadn’t been in before and it’s more of a reaction instead of something I thought about and worried about.”
Lecroy said that the expectations placed on Goodwin from the outside world don’t bother the young player and that the lessons are starting to take root.
“Pro ball makes you grow up. If you don’t, you’ll stay in the minor leagues and be out of baseball,” Lecroy said. “Coming to the park every day, getting your work in, being a professional, he’s starting to grasp it and he’s seen the improvements to his development and he’s got this feeling now that he’s getting closer.”
Lecroy and the Senators are in town for games tonight and Wednesday against the Fisher Cats.
TEPERA PITCHER OF WEEK: Fisher Cats pitcher Ryan Tepera has been named Eastern League Pitcher of the Week for the week ending July 21.
The righty took home his first weekly Eastern League honor and the team’s third of the season on the strength of his outing on July 17 against the Portland Sea Dogs.
Tepera, who started against Harrisburg last night, threw an eight-inning gem in a 4-0 Fisher Cats shutout against Portland and improved to 8-6 while lowering his ERA to 3.91.
Staff writer Ian Clark can be reached at email@example.com.