North Carolina baseball coach Mike Fox must feel like former assistant Chad Holbrook has driven a dagger into his midsection.
Holbrook, now an assistant with the Gamecocks, helped Fox build a powerhouse earlier this decade in Chapel Hill, recruiting a number of standout players that starred for the Tar Heels before leaving for the professional ranks. Holbrook is now doing the same thing for the Gamecocks.
The problem for Fox and Co. is that much of Holbrook’s recruiting success has come at the expense of the Tar Heels, who have lost a multitude of recruiting battles against USC in the Class of 2011, 2012 and 2013. And then came news earlier this month that the Gamecocks had landed a commitment from former Tar Heel Brian Goodwin, the nation’s top junior college player.
“He was recruited [by USC] out of high school,” Miami Dade College coach Danny Price said. “He liked his visit, and he remembered it. When they came calling again, it was a good fit for him.”
Price landed Goodwin last offseason after the former Rocky Mount (N.C.) standout decided to transfer from UNC after being suspended for academic troubles. He hit .291 with seven home runs and 63 RBIs as a freshman in 2010 for the Tar Heels.
In 47 starts in center field this season at Miami Dade, Goodwin hit .382 with 11 doubles, two triples, eight home runs and 37 RBIs. The left-handed batter walked 37 times – helping him accumulate a .492 on-base percentage – and stole 16 of 18 bases.
A dynamic player with all the tools, Goodwin could immediately step in and fill the void that would be left this summer if Jackie Bradley Jr. leaves for the minors as expected.
“He’s unique because he has the combination of power and speed,” said Price, who used his boyhood roots in Rocky Mount, N.C., to recruit Goodwin to south Florida. “He throws really well, and that’s why he’s considered a potential high-round draft choice. He’s a big-tool guy, a tremendous player and a tremendous teammate. He just packs all of the goodies.”
Price believes Goodwin’s power numbers will only improve as his body matures. With opposing teams often pitching around him, Miami Dade moved Goodwin around in the lineup to create advantageous matchups. He batted anywhere from first to third in the order this past season.
Goodwin spent the entire year in center field, his natural position. Price believes he has the type of athleticism to play that position moving forward. However, he could see him potentially moving to right field, with teams trying to best utilize his strong arm.
It remains to be seen which team will get the opportunity to put him in the lineup. Junior-college players are not bound by the three-year rule of four-year schools, meaning that Goodwin is draft eligible. He’s projected as an early round pick in next month’s MLB Draft, so he may never end up with the Gamecocks.
“It’s hard to say what he’s going to do,” Price said. “I don’t think anybody knows. If the numbers match up, I think he’ll go professional. If the numbers don’t match up, I think he’s got enough confidence in himself to go to college.”