Matt Barnes isn't Gerrit Cole, but he's in the upper echilon of college pitchers like Alex Myer, Sonny Gray, and Trevor Bauer. He brings good stuff but erratic control because of his inability to repeat mechanics. Although, he is projectable and athletic which leads many scouts to beleive it's correctable in time. Some teams will still be scared off from him because you expect a guy at his level to already do that. He has a high ceiling, but he's riskier than most college arms.
His stuff is above average already with his first two offerings. His fastball is usually in the lower to mid 90's and with good movement and many scouts already call it a plus offering. His curveball is already getting those kinds of labels already as well as has depth and sharp break. His changeup is a solid offering as well. The problem pitch is the slider. It's below average and hittable, so he'll either have to improve with it or use it in very select spots.
Like I said, his control is erratic from his delivery constantly being different in every aspect, including stride length. That is a red flag, a serious red flag. Although, he's been very succesful with those issues to the point he is at times considered a top 10 pick. If he can solve his issues, he's going to be very good. The fact that he can't repeat his motion is a red flag for command only has he has clean mechanics that don't scream injury.
His floor is a swing man if he can't tighten up his delivery. A guy who is too inconsistent in that area won't be relied upon to pitch every fifth day. He could also end up in a late inning role with his plus fastball/curveball combination. As Astros fans know, both of those are valuable with pitchers being inconsistent.
His ceiling lies at the front of the rotation. He's drawn comparisons to John Smoltz and that puts him in elite company. That ceiling is probably a little high but he could hold his own at the front if he is ever able to repeat his mechanics. He could easily work off his fastball and eliminate hitters with his curveball. The ceiling is there, it's just the chance of reaching it is a little lower than most.
Will the Astros draft him? If so, where?
There only chance will be with their first pick, and there's a solid chance that they may not even get the opportunity. If he is available, I doubt that Bobby Heck will be overly in love with him. Bobby Heck's pitcher profile tends to go with guys who are able to repeat mechanics and are more advanced with their changeup than their breaking ball. That doesn't fit Barnes profile and there is the whole issue of Heck never taking a college arm anywhere near this early.
Where is he projected to go right now?
Deep Leagues has him at No. 13 to the Royals
Perfect Game has him at No. 12 to the Brewers
John Sickels has him at No. 10 to the Padres
Bibliography (Scouting reports and video)
After the jump.
Barnes has a plus fastball at 93-95 and holds his velocity pretty well, mixing in an occasional low-90s two-seamer. His curveball is the eye-opener, 75-78 with depth and two-plane break, but he's been throwing a well below-average slider this spring, 79-81, flat and hittable.
As a draft prospect, Barnes is near the top of a very deep college class. His fastball ranks just behind Gerrit Cole’s as one of the best in the draft, and the tailing action the pitch has makes it nearly unhittable.
He compliments the pitch with three other offerings, all of which looked at least average during last summer. His curveball is his second-best pitch, and while it needs some tightening, it has the makings of an above-average pitch. His changeup is also a quality offering, and Barnes is excellent at spotting it. He got tons of called strikeouts during 2010 with it. Last, but not least, he offers a slider that is easily his least developed pitch.
Barnes can crank his fastball up to 96 mph and will comfortably sit in the 91-93 mph range. He currently throws two breaking pitches. His curve has the chance to be a plus pitch if he focuses on it, with good rotation. His slider is a below-average pitch, and it might be best if he used just the curve at the next level. His changeup has the chance to be a good option, especially against lefties, but he doesn't use it that much now. He should have excellent command in the future and his frame might allow him to add some bulk along the way.
He looks and acts like a frontline starter, and that's exactly what he might be down the line.