Prospect Smackdown: Jackie Bradley vs. Brian Goodwin
Per reader request, here is a Prospect Smackdown for two of the best outfield prospects in baseball, Jackie Bradley of the Boston Red Sox and Brian Goodwin of the Washington Nationals.
BACKGROUND AND INTANGIBLES
Bradley: A college star at the University of South Carolina, Bradley was named Most Outstanding Player for the 2010 College World Series and was considered a certain first-round pick heading into 2011. However, a wrist injury hampered his production that spring and he fell to the supplemental first round, 40th overall. He recovered fully in 2012 with a strong season in High-A and Double-A, emerging as one of the best outfield prospects in baseball. Bradley's intelligence, work ethic, and overall makeup are considered outstanding.
Goodwin: Goodwin had an impressive freshman campaign for the University of North Carolina in 2010, but was suspended for 2011 for a violation of team policy. Unwilling to sit out an entire spring, he chose to transfer to Miami Dade Junior College, making him eligible for the '11 draft, where he was selected in the supplemental first round, 34th overall, by the Nationals. He got off to a good start in Low-A in '12, but slumped after being promoted to Double-A.
Comparison: Their amateur backgrounds are comparable but Bradley has the edge on makeup.
TOOLS, PHYSICALITY, AND HEALTH
Bradley: Bradley is a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, born April 19, 1990, listed at 5-10, 180 pounds. He has an above-average throwing arm and average speed. However, his speed plays up due to his excellent instincts, giving him the ability to steal bases as well as thrive in center field. His defense is considered excellent, possibly Gold Glove worthy if he hits enough to play regularly, which shouldn't be a problem. Although not a huge home run hitter, Bradley has reasonable pop in his bat, a mechanically-sound swing, and a keen eye for the strike zone. His 2011 wrist injury has healed properly and he shows no ill effects.
Goodwin: Goodwin is a left-handed hitter and left-handed thrower, born November 2nd, 1990, listed at 6-1, 195 pounds. He has a solid throwing arm and uses it well. His running speed is above average, though he's still learning to make the most of it on the bases and in the field. In time he should be a reliable 20-steal candidate. He has the tools to be an above-average defensive outfielder, perhaps an excellent one, but is still working to improve his reads and instincts. His raw power is a slightly above average and he's got plenty of bat speed, but his feel for the strike zone comes and goes. He has issues with contact at times and is still refining his swing. He was bothered by a minor hamstring injury early in 2011.
Comparison: Their across-the-board physical tools are similar, but Goodwin's are just a bit better in most respects. Goodwin's pure speed and raw power are slightly better, but Bradley is more refined as a player, has a better feel for the game, and gets the most out of his tools at this point. Neither player has a serious health current concern.
Bradley: In 2012, Bradley hit .359/.480/.526 with 26 doubles, 52 walks, and 40 strikeouts in 234 at-bats for High-A Salem (wRC+ 180), then .271/.373/.437 in 229 at-bats for Double-A Portland with 35 walks and 49 strikeouts (wRC+ 129). Bradley had a reverse platoon split in Double-A (.761 OPS against right-handers, .908 against lefties) and won't have to be confined to a platoon role in the majors.
Goodwin: In 2012, Goodwin hit .319/.438/.542 with 18 doubles, nine homers, 43 walks, and 39 strikeouts in 216 at-bats for Low-A Hagerstown (wRC+ 167), then .223/.306/.373 with 18 walks and 50 strikeouts in 166 at-bats for Double-A Harrisburg (wRC+89). Goodwin followed up with a .238/.340/.475 mark in the Arizona Fall League. He has some issues against left-handed pitching, southpaws holding him to a .246 mark in the regular season and .190 in Arizona.
Comparison: Both players destroyed A-ball, though Bradley was slightly more effective in High-A than Goodwin was in Low-A. The difference in their polish levels was very evident in the Double-A Eastern League, where Bradley remained an above-average run producer while Goodwin struggled.
Bradley: Bradley projects as a .280+ hitter with 10-15 homers a year, 15-20 steals a year as a regular, with a high on-base percentage and excellent defense.
Goodwin: Goodwin should be good for 10-15 homers and 15-20 steals per year (perhaps more) as a major league regular. His batting average and OBP projections are more uncertain than Bradley's, his projection depending on how he handles left-handed pitching and how his plate discipline develops.
Comparison: I think their maximum outcomes are similar: across-the-board producers who do a lot of things well. Goodwin could hit a few more homers and steal a few more bases, but his batting average and OBP will likely be more volatile and he needs to do better against lefties to avoid being stuck in a platoon role.
I currently rate both Bradley and Goodwin as Grade B+ prospects. I have Bradley at #27 on my Top 50 hitters list, with Goodwin checking in at 39. They are very close. Bradley is six months older and more refined. While Goodwin's ultimate ceiling is perhaps a bit higher than Bradley's, Goodwin's risk is higher as well.