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Monday, December 5, 2022

Barrett Barnes is the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month for August

For the first time since we started naming a Player of the Month back in 2013, we have a back-to-back winner in the same season. Josh Bell took the honors in back-to-back articles, but that was August 2015 and then this April. Barrett Barnes won in July during a month fueled by a high batting average and the ability to get on base and use his speed. In August/September, he hit for average and power, which led to a 1.084 OPS. That earned him the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month for August.

Barnes had some tough competition over the last five weeks of the season, as both Pablo Reyes and Jordan George put up stats that would have earned them the Player of the Month in July over Barnes. So Barnes had to step up his hitting and he did by putting up a .337/.421/.663 slash line in 116 plate appearances. His average was down from July by 67 points, but his slugging percentage went up over 140 points. Barnes collected eight home runs in August. To put that in perspective for his five-year career, he had 22 career home runs coming into the month and never hit more than six in a season. It was truly a breakout performance for him.

When I recapped the month of July for Barnes, I totally missed on what he needed to do to continue his progress. He was coming off three months to start the season, in which he was just an average player at best. A light turned on in July and he did a great job of getting on base, then using his speed once he was on base. Not necessarily stealing bases (he had three in July), but he took extra bases on hits, turning his own hits into doubles, while moving up an extra base on hits by batters behind him. I said that he had to continue what he was doing to continue to succeed and he went in a different direction. Barnes started hitting for power in August and he didn’t even attempt a stolen base all month.

The best part is that he was still hitting for average while adding over-the-fence power to his game. The .404 average he put up in July obviously wasn’t something he could keep up. Barnes struck out 105 times this season in 405 at-bats, which is a little more than you want to see, yet he wasn’t striking out any less often in July or August while he was at his best. He was just making better contact, so those drives to the gaps in July, started going over the fence in August.

So now the Pirates will have an interesting decision with him this off-season. He needs to be added to the 40-man roster or he will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Barnes isn’t the best left fielder and his arm is below average, plus center field no longer seems to be an option. He is also 25 years old, and did have some Double-A experience coming into this season, plus he has a long history of injuries.

So there are a lot of question marks with him, but we are still talking about someone who was easily the best hitter in the system since July 1st. He is showing power now, the ability to get on base, and he has above average speed. The good part for the Pirates is that outfielders rarely get taken in the Rule 5 draft (11 in the last eight years) and they only stick half the time, so there isn’t a lot of risk being taken by the Pirates if they decide to leave him unprotected.

PLAYERS OF THE MONTH BY LEVEL

Indianapolis – Alen Hanson, 2B (.309/.330/.489, 99 PA, 3 HR)

Altoona – Barrett Barnes, LF (.337/.421/.663, 116 PA, 8 HR)

Bradenton – Pablo Reyes, 2B/SS (.386/.457/.557, 85 PA, 2 HR)

West Virginia – Jordan George, OF (.359/.510/.500, 102 PA, 0 HR)

Morgantown – Albert Baur, 1B (.321/.400/.464, 132 PA, 3 HR)

Bristol – Raul Siri, 2B/3B (.275/.339/.392, 116 PA, 2 HR)

GCL – Luis Benitez, OF (.290/.395/.348, 82 PA, 0 HR)

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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piraddict

What were Victor Fernandez’s problems? Is he still fast?

Wilbur Miller

Not much to choose from in Bristol or the GCL, eh?

taylor26554

I am pretty sure unless they are signed before the end of the year, Joyce, Rodriguez, Feliz, Vogelsong and Nova are free agents. I am guessing the Pirates will release Florimon and Locke and non tender Hughes. Possible additions would be Clay Holmes, Jin-De Jhang then maybe Neveraukas and Osuna. There would be room for Barnes and some additional free agents. Oh I forgot the first time eligibles of Yeudy Garcia and possibly Dickson and Weiss.

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