One of the best power/speed combinations in this draft, Barnes reminds me a bit of one George Springer. He's a polished college hitter who still may need some work in pro ball before coming up to the majors. He's got good speed and power potential, but may not hit a ton of homers at the next level.
You could also call him the best college hitter out there, if you're looking at the total package and not just the hit tool.
Why doesn't Barnes get more attention, then? Well, it's partly because Texas Tech was pretty bad in baseball this season. They didn't even make the Big 12 tournament and didn't earn a spot in the NCAA regionals. That means Barnes won't have any more of a showcase to build his draft stock.
Barnes has a nice, even swing from the right side, but that toe tap at the beginning means he might have problems with his timing down the road. I haven't seen many people concerned about it who have scouted him, but it's hurt the perception of J.D. Martinez, who's swing is more pronounced in its quirkiness.
No, Barnes just has three or four above-average skills. The question that will determine his ultimate value is where he ends up position-wise. If he can't stick in center, he's destined for left field because of a below-average throwing arm.
That puts him in Eric Byrnes territory, as a speedy outfielder with a bit of power who may not look like your normal left fielder. Nick Swisher may also be a good comp, though Barnes has much better speed and baserunning skills.
Moving to left field, Barnes doesn't have nearly as much value and that limits his floor. It'd be hard for him to play as a bench outfielder with only one spot in his repertoire. I think that lowers his floor a bit, but he probably has a higher floor than most of the high school outfielders. If his power holds up, he'll be able to bounce around the league for a while.
Ideally, Barnes could show off his power with a lower batting average and 15+ steals per season in center field. That makes him a value, but even if he moves off the position, you could see him putting up a few seasons like Eric Byrnes did in Arizona.
Projected Draft Round
Right now, he's a sandwich round pick, but could sneak into the back end of the first round if a team falls in love. Doesn't he seem like a guy Billy Beane would love? Like a new-wave Nick Swisher?
Will he sign?
He's a junior, so he has the capability to go back to school, but I imagine if he's drafted before the second round, he'll sign.
Bibliography after the jump
Barnes has great bat speed, making up for a slight bat wrap behind his head and a tendency to hit off his front foot; at the point of contact his back foot is perpendicular to the ground, touching only at the tip, so while he whips the bat through the zone he's not getting much power from his legs.
He's a plus runner who could provide fringy defense in center or above-average range in a corner. Texas Tech missing the Big 12 tournament hurt Barnes, and if he slides to the second round he'll be a modest bargain for somebody.
He’s landed on three different all-America teams and has been rated among the top 75 pro draft prospects, and that doesn’t count any preseason All-Big 12 honors from the conference which are sure to come his way. Such is the life of a player projected to be a top-three-round draft pick in June’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
But none of that is of concern right now to Tech’s junior center fielder.
"I’m not thinking about that," Barnes said. "I’m trying not to let it become part of my game because I still have a year left here at Texas Tech and another season to play. I’m worried about Texas Tech right now and the rest will take care of itself."
I think you're not hearing as much about him because Texas Tech isn't having a great year, but what more do you want from Barnes? He's hitting .342 with power — lots of doubles and triples, he's got a respectable 6 homers, he's 18-for-18 stealing bases, he has more walks than strikeouts. That's a damn good year, and his tools are impressive. I know some scouts aren't sold on him as a center fielder and see him as a bit of a tweener, but I believe in that power/speed package. I'm in on Barnes.
Barrett Barnes is seen here as a freshman on the Cape back in 2010, and you could sure dream on the guy. He had that loose, strong body and those hands. He gave you bat speed, gunshots with wood. His other tools played just fine. I have not seen him since his first year on the Cape, but he was the most talented freshman outfielder I had seen on the Cape since I stumbled onto Jackie Bradley Jr. as a freshman at Hyannis in 2009. He should go good here in 2012.
Barnes is rapidly establishing himself as one of the top outfield prospects available in the 2012 draft. Currently hitting .333/.444/.608 with six homers, 20 walks, and 19 strikeouts in 102 at-bats, Barnes is willing to work counts and has excellent bat speed. He's also stolen 13 bases in 13 attempts, although he got caught leaning the wrong way once in this game and was picked off by the pitcher. He has the range and arm strength for center, and overall I was very impressed. The tools are clearly here and the skills look solid, too. He doesn't turn 21 until July. Given the relatively weak college hitting class this year, he has a definite shot at the first round.