BLUF: Ceiling stretching toward #2 starter with physicality, raw stuff, feel and excellent presence.
The Player: Matt Barnes (RHP, Boston Red Sox) – Three-year contributor at UConn, including 1.93 ERA and an 11-5 record in 17 starts as a junior in 2011. Struck out nearly a batter per inning and allowed only 79 hits in 121 innings during his final year for the Huskies. Drafted 19th overall by the Red Sox, staying in New England where he was born. Assigned to Low-A Greenville out of the gate, he posted a 0.34 ERA in five starts, allowing 12 hits and four walks in 26.2 innings, with 42 punch outs. Promoted to the High-A Carolina League, he has a 1.50 ERA in two starts with 20 strikeouts and one walk in 12 innings.
Basis of Report: Personal Observation (Spring 2010 and 2011), Industry Contacts
Body (6-4, 205): Big, physical kid with projection remaining. Lanky build with broad shoulders. Excellent pitcher’s frame and good athleticism. Has added strength since college while maintaining fluidity of movement and flexibility. Very good long-term physical projection. A body you can dream on.
Delivery/Mechanics: Quick, controlled movements through windup to balance point. Employs moderate to high leg kick that can get a little sharp at times and throw off his balance. Really quick arm that works well with his delivery. Keeps arm with body throughout. Gained consistency with line to the plate over last year. Stays closed consistently and has excellent extension out front. Really sound mechanics with good coordination, grace and athleticism.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 97, Low – 91, Average – 93-95, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 97, Low 92, Average 93-94, Grade – 60/60
Fastball (FB) Movement: Ball jumps out of hand. Gets on hitters in a hurry. Natural life on the ball makes it difficult to square. Will occasionally turn one over and put a little sink on it. If he can consistently sink the ball when he wants to, could be true plus movement in time. Has pitchability to develop consistent manipulation of FB. Grade – 50/60
Overall Fastball: FB is more consistent than in college. Velocity, life and release point are all improved and help the pitch play up even more. Have questions about ability to maintain premium velocity in the stretch, but should be plus over long term. Could flash as potential 70 pitch out of windup and throughout starters. Easy plus pitch that could play up more at times. Grade – 60/60
Curveball (CB): Battled consistency in the past. Can still get loose at times and show a softer side that won’t work well at higher levels. Began mixing it in more after promotion to Carolina League. More frequently showing hard overhand bite with tight spin and good deception. Potential plus pitch with increased consistency. Has feel to reach projection. Grade – 40/60
Change-up (CH): Has always shied away from it. Throwing it more in Carolina League. Needs work. Shows some sink but can get a little flat when he overthrows it. Shows some feel with occasional good arm speed/angle. Just needs to throw it more to gain consistency. Potential average to slightly above-average pitch. Grade – 30/50
Control: Improved line to the plate has led to more strikes. Pounding lower half of the zone with entire arsenal. Coordinated, easy delivery lends to strike throwing. Really strong control now and can still improve with good feel for game and work ethic. Grade – 60/70
Command: Showed more command this spring, particularly in Carolina League. FB command is approaching average and should be plus in future. CH command lags behind. CB command is improving, can move to both sides, needs to throw more as chase pitch against better competition. Good athleticism and consistent delivery give overall command projection. Grade – 40/60
Summation: Still maintains number three starter potential he had coming out of draft. Improved control/command and overall consistency gives some scouts belief he could reach number two ceiling. Easy plus FB and easy projection for plus CB give him two reliable pitches that can get outs. Improvements in CH could make it a nice complimentary pitch against advanced hitters. Good athlete. Gets off the mound well. Knows his role as a defender but still needs work on execution. Great mound presence. Aggressive mentality. Doesn’t back down. Wants the ball in tough spots and wants to work out of jams. Gamer mentality with power stuff and surprising pitchability. Great combination and foundation for future success.
Relative Risk: Moderate. Has to demonstrate he can handle a professional workload, but has durable body, good stuff and plus makeup.
Future: Too advanced for any A-ball levels. Should see Double-A before the end of the 2012 season and could move quickly to the big leagues from there. Possible late-2013 arrival in Boston. Easy mid-rotation and possible number two projection with All-Star potential at peak.