Friday, December 12, 2014

Welcome to the Blue, Austin Barnes!

Following on the heels of my little report on Kike Hernandez this morning, here is a look at another prospect we received in the Dee Gordon Trade - Austin Barnes.  You can follow him on twitter here: @austinbarnes23.

Per a Dodgers Press Release:
Barnes, 24, was a Single-A Florida State League All-Star in 2014, combining to hit .304 with a .398 on-base percentage, 13 home runs and 57 RBI in 122 games with Single-A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville. In addition to appearing in 73 games behind the plate, Barnes played in 30 games at second base and 15 at third base.

Barnes has been selected to his league's All-Star Game in three consecutive years (2012 South Atlantic League mid- and post-season, 2013-14 Florida State League mid-season) and has a .298 batting average with a .390 on-base percentage, 31 home runs and 186 RBI in 419 professional games in four minor league seasons. The Riverside, CA, native was originally selected by the Marlins in the ninth round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Arizona State University. currently ranks him as our 18th best prospect in the system and our 2nd best overall catcher. 
Initially a second baseman entering pro ball, Miami moved Barnes behind the plate in 2013, and he showed some solid tools there. He's also a capable defender in the infield. A solid-average hitter, Barnes uses the whole field, really understands situational hitting and is an above-average baserunner. His instincts and his makeup allow him to play above his tools.

Barnes is still improving defensively, but he'll likely end up as the kind of versatile player big league managers like to have on their roster.
So, he may still have quite a ways to go before he can get behind the dish for a Major League game, but has the tools to succeed.  Fortunately, he appears to already hit well.  Possibly with the tutelage from a Dodger coaching staff (Steve Yeager) we might see his catching skills improve and see him in Los Angeles before too long.

BTW, Barnes has been a fixture in FanGraphs 'The Fringe Five: Baseball’s Most Compelling Fringe Prospects' in 2014.  Here is what Carson Cistulli wrote in late-August:
The 24-year-old Barnes appeared within three of the four most recent editions of this weekly column almost entirely on the strength of his excellent plate-discipline profile and positional flexibility. He demonstrated both those skills once again this past week, recording a 7:3 walk-to-strikeout ratio while also making defensive appearances at both second base and catcher for Double-A Jacksonville. What else he did this week was hit four home runs
In celebration of Barnes's arrival to the Dodgers I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photograph grabbed from a photo from MiLB (Bryan Gayoso) and the 1974 Topps Baseball card design.

Below are the career stats for Austin Barnes, via Baseball-Reference:

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

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