Nats center field prospects a “position of strength” with Perez and Goodwin leading way

I spoke last week about the acquisition of Denard Span and how it sets up a very good order of center fielders now throughout the Nationals system.

Eury Perez, Brian Goodwin, Michael Taylor and Billy Burns have played well at each level of the system as they look to get better this season and move up.

Goodwin was recognized this week as the No. 70 prospect by Baseball America.

“I think center field is a position of strength for us,” Nationals director of player development Doug Harris said.

The 22-year-old Perez hit .314 in 127 games with a .344 on-base percentage and 51 stolen bases, playing primarily for Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse. The 22-year-old Goodwin hit .280 in 100 games with 14 homers, a .384 on-base percentage and 18 stolen bases for Single-A Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

The 21-year-old Taylor hit .242 in 109 games with a .318 on-base percentage and 19 stolen bases for Single-A Potomac, while the 23-year-old Burns hit .322 in 113 games with a .432 on-base percentage and 38 stolen bases for Hagerstown.

“From Eury Perez to Brian Goodwin, from Michael Taylor to Billy Burns, each guy has got some different challenges in front of them, Harris said. “Eury being at Triple-A level at a very young age and performed very well. We have talked about Goodwin a lot. Michael Taylor is a very talented kid and Billy Burns might be the fastest of all of them. We like the group of center fielders we have in house.”

The talent does not end there, with more speedy outfielders on the way.

At short-season Single-A Auburn, center fielder Narciso Mesa, 21, hit .343 with 22 stolen bases and a .391 on-base percentage. He played six games at Hagerstown and will likely begin there.

For the rookie-level Gulf Coast Nationals, 20-year-old Hayden Jennings hit .192 in 47 games with 17 stolen bases and a .254 on-base percentage. Jennings has been clocked at 6.4 seconds in the 60-yard dash, which is in Billy Hamilton range.

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