Photo: UCONN

50 in 50: Matt Barnes

Draft : : Top Prospects
       
Published: Saturday, April 30, 2011

Matt Barnes
RHP / Connecticut

BATS-THROWS:                 R-R
HEIGHT/WEIGHT:               6-4/205
HOMETOWN:                      Bethel, Conn.
PREVIOUSLY DRAFTED:    Never drafted
BIRTHDATE:                       June 17, 1990

SCOUTING PROFILE:
Barnes has been a revelation since going undrafted in 2008 as a little-known, lightly-recruited prospect out of a Connecticut high school. He started slowly in college, but by his sophomore year with the Huskies, he had added 7-8 mph in velocity to his fastball, peaking at 97, and significantly developed his off-speed pitches. He went 8-3, 3.92 a year ago, and had a standout summer with Team USA, going 3-0, 1.42 with 26 strikeouts and five walks in 19 innings. That set the stage for 2011, and not only were Barnes and his UConn teammate George Springer, another local prep product, pegged as potential high first-round picks for this year’s draft, but long-time Northeast scouts were calling the Huskies the most-talented college team ever produced in the region. The Huskies unexpectedly struggled out of the blocks to begin the 2011 season before righting the ship, but Barnes has been steady throughout and carried an 8-2, 0.92 record into late April, along with 17 walks and 69 strikeouts in 78 innings. Perhaps most impressively, he had limited hitters to a .152 average. Over his three year college career, he has seen his ERA drop from 5.43 to 3.92, to this year’s sub-1.00 mark. Though Barnes was largely unheralded when he enrolled at UConn, he was on the radar of most scouts in the area all along because of his loose arm and projectable frame. Along with a significant increase in velocity, his feel for pitching has also improved by leaps and bounds. He produces a good downhill angle on his fastball, and generates more arm-side run on the pitch than sinking action, though he does get good sink on his two-seamer. Besides his above-average fastball, Barnes has a chance for three average secondary pitches. His hard, sharp 75-78 mph curve is his best off-speed pitch, though he still has a tendency to cut it off instead of snapping it off out front. His 79-80 mph slider continues to evolve, but often is flat with a slurvy-shaped rotation. He can produce the same arm speed on his changeup as his fastball, and locates it well to both sides of the plate with late sink. Though Barnes uses minimal effort in his delivery, he still struggles at times with his mechanics, particularly in identifying a consistent release point, which mildly impacts his command. It’s rare when one college will produce two players in the top 10 picks of the same draft, much less 10-11 picks in the same draft. But Connecticut has a fair shot at turning both those tricks, and the only suspense might be whether Barnes or Springer goes off the board first.

Projected Draft Position: First round / top 8-15 picks.

– ALLAN SIMPSON

Perfect Game Events Attended

    2006 WWBA Underclass World Championship
    2006 WWBA World Championship
    2007 BCS 16u Northeast Regional
    2007 WWBA 2007 Grads or 18u National Championship
    2007 Northeast Top Prospect Showcase
    2007 NE Top Prospects Games
    2008 WWBA 2008 Grads or 18u National Championship

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