The Astros are clearly a team in transition (or should we say a long-term re-haul). The latest youngster to join the mix is outfielder Brandon Barnes, who was recalled yesterday. Between Double and Triple-A this season Barnes has hit .321with 12 HR, 69 RBI, 81 R and 21 SB.
With power and speed we would say that the 26-year old right-handed hitter was an intriguing option, right? I wouldn’t be so quick.
First of all, there is a reason that, while he first reached Triple-A two years ago, he always was forced to take a step back. He has shown power in the past, including hitting 28 HR in 2010, but strikeouts have been a consistent problem.
In 2010 at High-A ball he posted a 22.7% strikeout rate, not terrible if it had come against better competition. Last season in 263 Triple-A at bats he was at 26.2%. He was better this season, with a 23.0% mark at Double-A and 18.6% mark at Triple-A, but we have to keep in mind that this is another jump in level. It wouldn’t be surprising to see his strikeout rate rise significantly early on.
He also had never shown this type of speed previously. In fact, prior to 2012 his career high for stolen bases in a season was 15 and his most attempts was 18. Could he have finally learned? Maybe, but I wouldn’t be betting on it.
Even the power truly emerged for one season. Besides that 2010 campaign he has never hit more than 18 in a season.
We have all seen players develop late in their careers, like Nelson Cruz has recently. Still, it’s hard to recommend Barnes, a sixth round draft pick back in 2005. Maybe you catch lightning in a bottle, but long-term it doesn’t appear like the potential is there. He is best left for those in the deepest of formats and even then he should be nothing more than bench fodder until he proves otherwise.