Goodwin, Harper lead discussion of Nationals’ top outfield prospects

The outfield depth of the Nationals’ system has certainly been fortified over the last few seasons through draft and free agent acquisition, especially with the inclusion of former catcher and No. 1 prospect Bryce Harper moving to a corner outfield position in his first season.

But also garnering major attention has been former University of North Carolina and the 34th overall selection in 2011, outfielder Brian Goodwin, who the franchise hope will eventually be that prototypical center fielder/leadoff man the team has coveted for many seasons.

Nationals outfield coordinator Tony Tarasco sees similarities in how desperate guys like the 21-year-old Goodwin and the 19-year-old Harper are about getting better and accelerating their path to the big leagues.

It makes sense to put these two players together. Baseball America has listed the pair as No. 1 and No. 3 prospects, respectively, on their 2012 top 10 Nationals’ futures list.

“Both Harper and Goodwin are like sponges,” Tarasco said. “Both are locked in when you are giving them instruction. Both are fearless to applying the instruction in a game. I think Goodwin will be able to maximize his speed by getting a more accurate first step in taking the correct route to the ball. He has been able to improve upon that gift he was born with (during this year’s accelerated camp).”

Tarasco has been able to work extensively with Goodwin in instructional league and now accelerated camp, helping the youngster hone his game. It mirrors the time he was able to spend with Harper. There was a lot of change for Harper, because the top prospect was learning a new position in order to fast-track him to the majors.

With Goodwin, that was one advantage the Miami-Dade product has had this first camp: He has always manned the outfield grass since he started playing baseball.

“Brian is a little different than Harper,” Tarasco said. “Both of them have above-average speed, but Goodwin has another gear. He has been playing outfield for his entire career so he has the knack for going out there (and making plays). He didn’t have to start at the ground level.”

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