Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Top Prospects: #18 – Barrett Barnes

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To recap the countdown so far:

20. Michael De La Cruz, OF
19. JaCoby Jones, OF

We continue the countdown with the number 18 prospect, Barrett Barnes.

Barrett Barnes has missed a lot of time in his career due to injuries. (Photo Credit: Tom Bragg)
Barrett Barnes has missed a lot of time the last two years due to injuries. (Photo Credit: Tom Bragg)

18. Barrett Barnes, OF

Barnes had a lot of upside when he was drafted. He was considered a toolsy player with quick hands, good power, and above-average speed. He can play center field, although his arm is below average and he profiles more as a corner outfielder in the future.

All of that is still the case with Barnes one year later. The problem he has seen is that he has been too injury prone in his short career. He hurt his leg in 2012 while playing with State College, and the injury caused him to miss the rest of the season. In 2013 he missed a lot of time with hamstring injuries. The injury caused him two short trips to the Disabled List in April and May. He went on the DL for a third time in late July, which ended his season.

Overall Barnes has been in the system for a year and a half, but has only received 308 at-bats due to the injuries. It’s hard to say if his numbers in 2013 were due to the lack of development, or due to the recurring hamstring problems. He didn’t hit for much power, plus saw a decline in his strikeouts, walks, and average.

Barnes still has a lot of potential, but he comes with the injury risk label. He’s going to need a full season of playing time to develop all of his tools and improve his game. If the injuries continue, that could end up derailing his career.

The Pirates have plenty of outfield prospects, so they’re not relying on Barnes. They can afford to take their time with his development, and that could mean that he could return to West Virginia in 2014 to make up for lost playing time.

Because of all of the outfield options, it’s possible that Barnes could be used as a trade chip in the future. He probably wouldn’t have a high value to teams right now, but even if he regains value he wouldn’t be in the mix for a starting job. The immediate future has Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco, and Starling Marte as the starters in Pittsburgh. Long-term the Pirates have Austin Meadows, Josh Bell, and Harold Ramirez who all profile better than Barnes. It would be hard to see him ever fitting into the outfield mix in Pittsburgh.

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  • Barnes has been a bust so far because so much was expected, but his post all-star numbers from 2013 at Lo A WV were excellent – 28 Games, 111 AB’s, and a slash line of .297/.358/.505/.862. He has some pop and speed, but like the rest of the board has already stated, he needs to catch a break and play a full year without injury. For someone who has missed so much time, the numbers listed above can be considered a break through for him, but his season ended prematurely again. The Pirate OF is so strong that I do not see him unseating anyone, but he would definitely bring a lot of interest if he posted some strong full season numbers.

    • CalipariFan506
      January 8, 2014 10:57 pm

      Again he is advanced for that level. He graduated high school in 2008 he’s facing kids two or three years behind him or other filler.

      • CF: Surprisingly enough, Fangraphs did something on the average age per level, but the last thing I saw was the average in 2011. For Lo A in 2011 the average was 21.2 years of age, and in Lo A 52% of the players had reached age 21 and then 80% of the players were under 22. BB is one of those true slash guys in that his baseball years are always split. His birthday is right in the middle of the season, so in 2013 he was 21/22, which is probably about one year higher than the average, figuring he ended the season around 22.15 years of age.

        One of the problems with a kid who has attended college is that it does not leave a whole lot of time to get to the majors. If I look at a kid in the minors who is still in Lo A at age 22, it is very easy for me to just write him off. This kid has to start at Hi A in 2014, and he has to look good enough long enough to earn a promotion to AA Altoona.

  • CalipariFan506
    January 8, 2014 12:18 pm

    Barnes was a top 50 pick from a Big 12 school. The fact he played one game for West Virginia bothers me. Here he is two years later after some injuries and still facing younger competition than he did when he was drafted. IMO he’s close to if not ruined.

    • I’ve read where people claim that health is a skill, which is an interesting definition of “skill”, but I think you can argue that staying healthy is an attribute, and Barnes’ inability to stay heatlhy is very worrisome.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 8, 2014 11:39 am

    Granted he has been injury prone, but I still think is a very good prospect – hopefully, will get a full season in 2014. If your #18 prospect is a guy like Barnes, and Jacoby Jones is #19, you have a very impressive farm system!

  • I see a trend here of toolsy athletic players with real high end potential. I would be curious to see who were our 10-20 prospects back in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

    • IC…Using BA’s Top 30, to answer your question.

      In 2009, our NUMBER SEVEN prospect was Jeff Sues.
      In 2010, our NUMBER SEVEN prospect was Tim Alderson.

      From those two years, the only prospects of note (ranked 11-20) are Jordy Mercer, Grossman and Chase d’Arnaud. Wes Freeman, at the time was rated ‘toolsy’.

      So, bottom line: We’ve improved our top half and our depth.

      • LeeFoo : isn’t that list pitiful ? You should have seen some of those kids when they got to AA….WOW !

    • IC Bob : ’08 # 11 thru 20 were : Romak,Morgan,Brad Corley,Bullington,Matt Peterson,Romulo Sanchez,Lattimore,Marcus Davis (?) Tony Watson & Sharpless. ‘ 09 got a little better : Locke,Grossman,Morris,Quinton Miller, Lorin,Mercer,Cain,Black,Jarek Cunningham & Ronald Uviedo.

      • How quick(or slow depending on how you look at it)things change. What a horrible list of prospects the Pirates had just five short years ago and now what a fantastic group!

    • Thanks guys. 2009 wasn’t to bad but 08 yikes!

      • The talent level had to be seen to really appreciate how sad the orginization truly was Bob.