Nationals top outfield prospect Brian Goodwin benefited from another year of Arizona Fall League competition and did well. Goodwin hit .296 in 19 games with the Mesa Solar Sox, with four doubles, one triple, two homers, three stolen bases and 12 RBIs.
The 23-year-old Goodwin believed it was another huge opportunity to get better at his craft and experiment with different strategies at the plate.
"You go down there and the stats don't count so much," Goodwin said. "You still play to win, obviously. But you can go out there and work on things without getting frustrated or wanting to see results real quick. You can take your time and get in a flow.
"I think I got a chance to go out there and work on some stuff and try out some new things, mix up some things that I was already doing and fine-tune those. Arizona gave me a great opportunity to do that against some good competition."
Goodwin said getting relaxed in the batter's box, being patient with each at-bat, and like a pitcher, trying to repeat the same regimen each appearance has been a key focus for him in each game.
"I think just getting comfortable in the box was a big thing for me," Goodwin said. "Getting to a place where I feel like I can repeat my same swing and have the same swing path every pitch even if it is different. Picking up pitches and seeing that stuff is different for everybody you face. I think if you can get in there and if you can feel confident about what you are doing with your swing and everything you just let the rest take care of itself."
Being in Viera, Fla., for spring training and getting the chance to play alongside a few Nationals starters like Bryce Harper, Denard Span, Jayson Werth and others also has been beneficial for his game and what he sees on the field defensively.
"I get a chance to talk to all those guys," Goodwin said. "Span, Werth, Harp, anybody that will listen to me. I ask them how they would play this certain ball, how they play certain batters, how they do in certain fields, anything that comes to mind because those guys have experience and they have been there and have done it successfully. Anything you can pick up from those guys is a plus."
Goodwin said there wasn't one thing in particular he focused on getting better at while working out in the offseason. He just wants to get better in all areas of his game. He would be the first to admit the .252 average and 121 strikeouts is something he would like to improve, and he has the confidence and ability to do just that. People sometimes forget that 2013 was only his second season in the minors after jumping to Double-A in his rookie season of 2012.
"My baserunning, I had 19 bags last season, I don't see why I couldn't double or triple that," Goodwin said. "My average was down, I don't see why I couldn't raise that 30, 40 or 50 points. I just keep putting in the work I keep putting in. Keeping my effort level high. The results will come. If I just keep my same work ethic and keep my goals in mind I am trying to accomplish."
Goodwin said nothing in baseball is a better teacher than tons and tons of at-bats, work with his hitting coach and constant repetition at the plate. All that experience has helped him for this next season.
"I would say so," Goodwin said. "The more you do it, the better you become at it. I am just getting a chance to play that competition and getting a chance to repeat the same things over and over for 100-plus games. I think just getting the experience and seeing these guys every day it definitely pays a big contribution to that."
Coming up next ... we will look at Goodwin's offseason strength and conditioning regimen with Jeremy Swafford at Athletes Performance in Raleigh, N.C.