Goodwin Ventures South For Fresh Start

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Brian Goodwin just wanted to start over.

After hitting .291/.409/.511 as a freshman for North Carolina last season, expectations were high for Goodwin entering 2011. He was coming off a strong summer in the Cape Cod League and would be moving from right field to center field—his natural position—for the Tar Heels. Goodwin looked like one of the top position players in a lukewarm college crop for the 2012 draft.

But in November, North Carolina announced that Goodwin had been suspended for the 2011-12 academic year for violating university policy. Goodwin would not comment on the details of the suspension, but did say he felt the situation was blown out of proportion.

Before going to Carolina, Goodwin was one of the top high school outfielders in the 2009 draft class. He was the MVP of the Aflac All-American game in the summer of 2008, but slipped down draft boards with a so-so spring and then scared some teams off closer to the draft by choosing Scott Boras Corp. as his adviser.

After getting suspended at North Carolina, Goodwin considered staying closer to home at Pitt (N.C.) CC, but ultimately decided to pack things up and head south to Miami-Dade JC for warmer weather and a fresh start.

"I just wanted to get away and try something different," Goodwin said. "I tried the four-year school at home and I liked it all right, but I just felt that I wanted to try something different."

Goodwin said he misses certain aspects about life at Carolina, but is ready to move forward and is excited about being draft-eligible a year earlier than he originally planned.

"I miss the guys, I miss the team and I miss some of my coaches and the competition, of course," Goodwin said. "But other than that, I came down here and I was accepted like I'd been here all fall. Everybody just accepted me and I felt like I had been here the whole time. So it's a good situation."

Miami-Dade head coach Danny Price said Goodwin has been a great addition to the team, both on and off the field.

"Not only is he very talented, but he's very appreciative in the things that he gets," Price said. "Sometimes when you get these high-profile players, there's baggage with them. There's absolutely no baggage with him. He's had a silly grin on his face from day one."

Ready For Takeoff

Goodwin has had reason to smile. Through the team's first 26 games, Goodwin was hitting .382/.477/.632 with five home runs and seven stolen bases in as many attempts. He got off to a slow start to the season with a sore hamstring, but was back at 100 percent and back in center field.

He saw a lot of time in center field last summer in the Cape Cod League with Harwich and wound up being Baseball America's No. 6 prospect in the league.
"I really felt like my game took off this summer," Goodwin said. "I can't really put a finger on what it was, but I really felt like I took off this summer. It might have been that the competition was better and I played up and played well. I don't really know what it was, but I felt like I just gradually got better and I'm just working from there, still trying to get better."

Goodwin returned to his natural position in center field this spring and is putting his above-average speed on display there, covering ground at Miami-Dade's spacious field.

"I've seen him make good breaks and I've seen him make bad breaks," an American League area scout said. "But if you take an athlete, you can always work on the defense, and center field is one of the easiest positions to learn because the ball won't tail or cut like it does down the line. You can just get him reps out there and the athleticism will take over."

What Goodwin is mostly working on this season is his swing. Despite the solid offensive numbers so far, there's still room for improvement.

"I'm really working on trying to figure out my swing, trying to learn my swing better," Goodwin said. "Because I feel like I have a lot more to offer, a lot more in the tank that people don't see right now."

He's not alone with that assessment.

"It's a really simple approach," the scout said. "He has a simple, short swing to the ball. Right now it's bat over power, but I think the power might come."

Figuring out that swing has been tough for Goodwin this season because he has been pitched around a lot.

"I haven't seen much to hit, which is a surprise because I didn't think people would care enough to walk me," Goodwin said. "But other than that, I've been playing fine the whole year."

Goodwin said he hasn't started looking for a college for next year, in the event things don't work out with the draft. He's projected to go in the first round, so there's a good chance Goodwin will be getting another fresh start this summer, this time with a pro team.