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Then & Now: Scott Barnes

Then & Now: Scott Barnes
January 24, 2013
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Then & Now is a weekly feature at Indians Prospect Insider during the offseason that takes a look at a prospect’s past and present while also offering a possible glimpse into the prospect’s future.

Of all the Cleveland Indians prospects that made their debut during the 2012 season, perhaps none were more impressive than left-handed pitcher Scott Barnes.

The left-hander with the sneaky delivery was acquired by the Indians back in the summer of 2009 from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Ryan Garko. Since then, the Springfield, MA native has seen his stock steadily rise within the Indians organization.

The rise was culminated this past season when he made his debut with the Tribe on May 30. Barnes had his ups and one very specific down with the team, but it seems as if most would agree that the 6 foot, 4 inch, 200-pounder proved that he is indeed a Major League talent.

It’s interesting to see how Barnes has progressed. He’s overcome some poor seasons to essentially cement himself as one of the more promising arms in the system.

Now, it’s just up to him to go from a promising prospect to a promising Major Leaguer. He could be well on his way.

Then:

Barnes was drafted by the Giants in the 8th Round of the 2008 Draft out of St. John’s University. He then made his debut that year at the team’s rookie affiliate before making it all the way to the Single-A level. Between three different teams, Barnes posted an ERA of 2.06 in 43 2/3 innings of work.

The numbers were quite good, but considering that Barnes was already 20 years old and facing much lesser competition, they probably should have been expected.

In 2009, the Indians acquired Barnes when his stock could not have been higher. The left-hander had started 18 games that year for High-A San Jose and sported a 12-3 record with a 2.85 ERA. He also was striking out 9.1 batters per nine innings at the time the Indians acquired him.

However, Barnes unfortunately did not perform nearly as well after joining the Indians. He ended the season at Double-A Akron where he posted a 5.68 ERA in six starts. Granted, it was only six starts, but it was somewhat discouraging considering the expectations for Barnes coming in.

Unfortunately, things did not get any better during the 2010 season. Barnes spent the entire season back at Akron, and the numbers ended up being eerily similar to the ones that he posted the previous summer. In 26 starts and 138 innings, Barnes posted a 5.22 ERA. Perhaps the only positive was that Barnes was still generating a decent amount of strikeouts (8.3 K/9), so it seemed to serve as evidence that his stuff was not the problem.

Finally, everything seemed to click for Barnes in 2011. He seemed to display a much better presence on the mound than in years past. Also, his command was much better as evidenced by the fact that he walked 3.3 batters per nine innings, which was the lowest walk rate Barnes had posted since joining the Indians.

Overall, Barnes went 8-4 in 99 innings between Akron and Triple-A Columbus that season. Unfortunately, Barnes season ended prematurely because of a torn ACL that he suffered in July. But aside from that setback, 2011 proved to be a career year for Barnes.

Now:

2011 was a career year for Barnes… that is, until 2012.

2012 marked the year that Barnes made his Major League debut. Barnes left quite a mark in his time with the Indians, only this he left that mark in a role that he previously had not been accustomed too — as a reliever.

Barnes was originally called up by the Indians in May and while things started off smoothly, a certain relief appearance in mid June would go down as one of the lowest points of Barnes’ professional career.

On June 14th, Barnes entered a game against the Cincinnati Reds and proceeded to get rocked. When all was said and done, Barnes’ line looked like this: 1/3 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR.

Barnes seemed to struggle initially in subsequent outings as he allowed at least one run in each of his next three appearances before he finally was sent down to rejoin the Clippers in Columbus. However, it was not long before Barnes found himself back in Cleveland as he was a September callup, and this time, he looked to be a different, much more confident pitcher.

From Sept. 2 to Oct. 2, Barnes pitched in nine games and pitched nine scoreless innings while allowing only five hits and striking out six. The strong stint helped lower Barnes’ season ERA to 4.26. The sample size was small, but it also offered a glimpse of the ability that Barnes possessed. The Indians had already seen him excel as a starter in the minor leagues, but now he was excelling as a reliever and in the Major Leagues, no less.

Future:

With Rafael Perez being designated for assignment and with Tony Sipp being traded away, the Indians now have a legitimate need for left-handed relievers at the Major League level.

Given his strong finish, one would think that Barnes has a leg up on the competition for one of those spots. However, the Indians may also decide that they want to further develop Barnes as a starting pitcher, which could result in him starting the season in the rotation at Columbus.

However, more likely than not, Barnes will be a member of the Tribe’s bullpen come opening day. This could end up only being a temporary thing though as the Indians may decide to move Barnes back into a starting role sometime in the future.

In any case, Barnes offers plenty of flexibility. He can relief and if needed, he could be stretched out to start. This bodes very well for Barnes’ Major League future, which seems to be right now.

Previous Then & Now profiles:

Steve can be reached via email at orbaneks@gmail.com.

User Comments

Tony
January 25, 2013 - 12:17 AM EST
Gonna disagree on that with Barnes. The Indians have starting pitching issues indeed, but they have an even bigger issue with left-handed pitching options. For that reason, while Barnes will still be considered a starter down the road, he is expected to pitch out of the bullpen this year, be it with Cleveland or in Columbus.
Mike
January 24, 2013 - 11:53 PM EST
I completely agree with Andy. Since Hagadone is slated as strickly a reliever now it would be better for Barnes to open in AAA as a starter and then hopefully "re-establish" himself as a legit option as a viable rotation candidate. There are still a lot of question marks with the top five starters and the more depth we have the better.

Not to mention that since Huff is out of options they will more than likely find a way to roster him. It just seems to be the way the front office operates. They like to hold on to their assets as long as possible. That could hurt Hagadone as well.
Tony
January 24, 2013 - 8:17 PM EST
Roger, you may be right on Kazmir. But to me, if Kazmir makes the rotation, it is a sign that disaster struck this spring with injuries. I don't see how even with a great spring how they could have him in the rotation to start the season considering he has barely pitched in three years. He's gonna have to prove over the long haul of spring training and a month or two in the minors that he is effective before he gets a chance. That's my two cents worth on that.
Matthew
January 24, 2013 - 7:03 PM EST
Wild idea, but maybe they'll let Huff start the season as the 5th starter, to allow Bauer/Carrasco/Kazmir a month or so to get ready, and move Huff to the bullpen whenever that time comes.

My worst fear about this season is watching one of Carrasco or Bauer sit in AAA while Ubaldo and Myers throw up a 5.00 ERA but neither loses their spot in the rotation because the Indians have committed too much money to get rid of them.
Roger
January 24, 2013 - 4:56 PM EST
tony i just think scott kazmir will have an excellent spring and get the 5th starter position. I agree that bauer is 1000 miles better than kluger. and yes i agree that carrasco will prolly not be active until warm weather they are gonna be cautious with him. just my guess i also think matt laporta will have excellent spring just a hunch. obviously he has had some hip problems and that really effects your weight shift at bat who knows there may have been a chip there that didnt get detected on the first operation if that is the case then his numbers would be skewed towards the mendoza line. doctors do make mistakes and if so you never know he could finally roll and not have a cavernous hole in his swing. I personally would love to see it happen. so my predictions in jan for great springs are scott kazmir and matt laporta. Ill prolly be wrong i usually am the closest thing i ever make to a gamble is the lotto. and for the record Kluber in my opinion is a stiff.
Andy
January 24, 2013 - 4:23 PM EST
I hope Barnes gets a chance to prove he's a viable ML starting pitcher. Working in relief seemed to help his slider develop and his changeup is really solid. Slightly improving his fastball command (avg 92 mph in relief) would make for a solid 3-pitch pitcher. What's not to like?
Tony
January 24, 2013 - 3:48 PM EST
Carrasco is not out of options: http://www.indiansbaseballinsider.com/options (I have to update this, good reminder for myself)
Tony
January 24, 2013 - 3:47 PM EST
I'll disagree Roger. Kluber is a clear step down from Bauer and Carrasco, and at this point, unless Carrasco/Bauer get hurt this spring and/or bomb with their performance, he has zero chance of being in the opening day rotation. That last spot will come down to Bauer/Carrasco and it is an interesting dilemna as you have a young FOR hurler who probably needs 1-2 months in AAA and you have another guy who is coming off Tommy John and did not pitch last year who needs to have his innings monitored and should probably spend the first month in extended spring training. That's why at least at the outset, that I believe Bauer has the leg up. The arbitration clock is what it is and is something that is a mild concern for the team. They simply want to put the best pitchers out there.
Josh
January 24, 2013 - 3:44 PM EST
Carrasco I believe is out of options, so if he doesn't make the rotation I'm pretty sure he's out the door.
Roger
January 24, 2013 - 3:43 PM EST
Matt i suspect bauer will start the year in clbs. maybe thru about memorial day so they save another year on arbitration elegibility. If you have kazmir, kluber, and bauer i think bauer will not receive the benefit of the doubt in order to prevent his meter from starting any sooner than it has too. AS for carrasco he is up as soon as he shows he is recovered from TJ surgery as he may actually be the best starting pitcher on the team when it is all said and done. With the Phils he had a very high profile in the BA top 100. note to Zac Mac DO NOT LEAD THE LEAGUE in unearned runs again you wont be around long if you are near the league lead. I think the starting rotation is gonna be far better in 2013 than it was in 2012. Zac Mac has experience Carlos should be even better than he was the first half of 2011 and the pitchers knockingon the door in columbus are significantly more talented. In addition dont be surprised if trey haley is in the rotation at columbus with his heater.
Tony
January 24, 2013 - 3:12 PM EST
Yeah, I think barring an awful spring by Huff that he will open as the second lefty slash longman in the pen. But the primary lefty will be a heated battle between Hagadone and Barnes and it will come down to who looks better. Both have options so whoever doesn't make it can be sent to the minors, and could be up very quickly once a need arises.
Matthew
January 24, 2013 - 3:08 PM EST
I am sure wiser minds than mine will be making these decisions, but I would much rather Huff be our lefty/longman pen arm to start the season, and stuff Barnes in the Columbus rotation. We already know that Huff can't be a starting option at the ML level, but Barnes may yet be able to. It also makes the best use of roster flexibility, as Huff has no options left.

If I'm playing fantasy GM/Farm Director, I see the Tribe rotation starting the season as:

-Masterson
-Ubaldo
-Myers
-McAllister
-Bauer

Clippers' rotation:

-Kluber
-Kazmir
-Barnes
-House
-Carrasco (piggybacked with Espino or Joe Martinez to monitor workload, if necessary)

That would be a fun AAA rotation to watch, with Salazar and/or Adams joining later in the season as holes open up.

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