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On path to DC, Goodwin lighting up AFL

PHOENIX -- It happened to Bryce Harper. Why not Brian Goodwin?

Harper reached the Major Leagues with limited Minor League experience, and Goodwin could follow the same path and become Harper's teammate on the Washington Nationals sooner rather than later.

Harper played in 130 Minor League games in 2011 and early this past season before becoming a fixture in the nation's capital. In Goodwin's only Minor League season, 2012, the outfielder played in a combined 100 games for Class A Hagerstown and Double-A Harrisburg.

Goodwin, ranked 67th among's Top 100 Prospects, is opening even more eyes in the Arizona Fall League as a member of the Salt River Rafters.

Goodwin, who will turn 22 on Friday, has been named the AFL's Player of the Week for Week 3. Rafters teammate Chase Anderson, an Arizona Diamondbacks prospect, was named AFL Pitcher of the Week.

Last week, Goodwin hit .529 (9-for-17) with two doubles, two triples, a home run, two RBIs, six runs scored, five walks and a stolen base. He led the AFL in batting average, slugging percentage (.636), and on-base plus slugging percentage (1.059).

Goodwin began Week 4 as the AFL leader in slugging (.744), extra-base hits (nine) and total bases (32). He also ranked second in OPS (1.299), third in runs (11) and third in home runs (three).

"Some might not consider him as a power guy, but he is leading the league in slugging percentage," said Rafters manager Matt Williams. "He does have good power. The ball jumps off his bat. He is a center fielder by trade, but he can play all three outfield positions. He has good speed. He has all the things you need. He is going to be a special one for the Nationals."

In high school, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Goodwin was named the North Carolina Player of the Year in 2008. He was a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American at North Carolina but transferred to Miami-Dade South Junior College. He played at Miami-Dade for one year before becoming the No. 34 overall pick by the Nationals in the compensatory round of the First-Year Player Draft.

Goodwin hit a combined .280 with 14 homers, 52 RBIs and 18 stolen bases for Hagerstown and Harrisburg in 2012.

Goodwin hit leadoff all season and is doing so again in the AFL. He played mostly right field in high school but has played center in the Minors and is playing center and left frequently for the Rafters.

Goodwin wasn't sure he liked the leadoff spot at first, but he has grown to appreciate what it means and the type of impact it can carry.

"You can do so much from that spot," Goodwin said. "You can really affect how a game is played. Hit a double, a triple, hit the ball somewhere. ... It can make the game easier for your pitcher and your defense. And you probably will get more of a chance to come up in crucial situations late in the game. That's what you want."

One of the things Goodwin has been working on in the AFL is bunting, at the Nationals' "request."

"It's an extra weapon, and it can only help me,'' said the left-handed-hitting Goodwin. "I'm getting better at it. I'm trying to take time to work on it every day."

Goodwin is also working on running the bases, particularly his leads off first base. Things didn't work out as well as planned against the Phoenix Desert Dogs on Monday, when he was picked off.

"I hope they aren't putting me in leadoff just to make [opponents] think I'm fast," Goodwin said, laughing. "I'm trying to talk to a lot of guys out here, see what their [steals] approach is."

If Goodwin can't make an impact offensively, he's certainly capable of making key plays in the field.

Goodwin gets a good jump on the ball and has a long, smooth stride.

Playing in left field on Monday, he charged to catch a low line drive just above his shoe tops. Later in the game, Goodwin raced over to field a bouncer near the line and turned to throw out the batter at second.

Goodwin enjoyed watching the Nationals play in the National League Division Series this year and hopes to be a part of the organization's future success.

"They have a lot of talent up and down the organization, and they're only going to get better," Goodwin said. "It's not too late to go out and get you some Nationals gear."

Washington Nationals