Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Report: Barrett Barnes

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

To begin the second half of the Pirates’ Top 30 prospects, we have outfielder Barrett Barnes at number 15. Barnes played at Texas Tech University and was a supplemental 1st round draft pick in 2012, coming as a result of the loss of Ryan Doumit in free agency.

Barnes – who turns 25 in July of the 2016 season – has seen his progress through the minor leagues become halted by injuries. 2015 was the first year he played a full season after missing time with a stress fracture in his leg his rookie season, then oblique and hamstring injuries that caused him to miss time in 2013 and 2014.

Before injuries slowed him down, Barnes looked like a guy who could hit at the top of the lineup and patrol the outfield with ease. The time he did spend on the field in his first three seasons were spent in centerfield where he recorded a .989 fielding percentage in almost 800 innings. His hamstring problems played a major role in his transition to left field in 2015, where his fielding percentage dropped about 20 points.

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It was that same season (his rookie season) that Barnes experienced his most success at the plate as well. Excluding 2014 due to the fact he only played 17 games, Barnes posted his highest batting average (.288), on-base percentage (.401), slugging percentage (.456) and weighted on-base percentage (.406) in 2012 for State College. He also struck out at the lowest rate (13.7%) of his career that season.

In 2015, Barnes finally started to make strides in getting past those injuries. He batted .261 for Bradenton, where 24 of his 61 hits went for extra bases. The most positive sign was that his speed – at one point his greatest weapon – had started to show again; after swiping 24 bags in his first three seasons, Barnes went 17-for-26 on stolen bases in 2015.

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One thing the Pirates would like him to improve on is his approach and plate discipline. In 2015, he struck out 50% more than he walked (66 strikeouts, 44 walks) and for someone who otherwise would fit greatly in the first or second lineup spots, patience will play a major role in his professional success or lack thereof. 

In 2016, Barnes will probably begin the season at Altoona, which is where he ended 2015 after being called up. He will likely play out the entire season there in order to work on his offense and gain more experience in left field. As I’ve stated in other posts, the Pirates’ outfield isn’t exactly the easiest place to break in right now but for Barnes, a few extra years of development could allow him to fully reach his potential in 2 or 3 years.