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On Sunday August 26th I watched Matt Barnes pitch for the Salem Red Sox (Boston) against the Carolina Mudcats (Cleveland).
I warn that although this will not be glowing, that I am simply scouting what I saw on Sunday. I do understand that late-season fatigue may have played into some of the issues I noticed. Again- I have to report on what I saw, not what I read on the internet.
General Pitching Tools
Standing at 6’4 205, Matt Barnes has a good frame that is mostly filled out, but I thought could still add another 10-15 pounds to be fully filled out. His mechanics are clean with the exception of an arm-drag that was exaggerated a bit when I saw him, which can most likely be attributed to late-season fatigue. This drag is a vice to his offspeed offerings, as it severely hinders the arm-action on them.
His mound presence was lacking, as he became frustrated at times and would lose his composure. In a few innings he just could not seem to finish them because one or two things would go wrong early, which would cause him to unravel a bit. He lacked confidence in his offspeed stuff, and would elect to try and paint fastballs instead of throwing breaking pitches.
His command/control was poor, but I believe that it was amplified by late season fatigue, and learning the rigors of a full season. He did not command more than one or two breaking balls the entire outing, and was spotty with his fastball command, flashing plus as well as below-average. The command would come and go by the batter, with him leaving fastballs over the plate too much for my liking.
Barnes’ fastball is a perplexing pitch, flashing plus movement and velocity (sitting 90-94 and touching 95 a few times), but he had no feel for the pitch. He did not struggle to throw it for strikes as much as he struggled to hit his spots, as he would frequently leave the pitch up over the plate for the Mudcats’ hitters to drive. When he tried to hit a spot he would simply miss the zone, and because of this the pitch is still very raw despite good movement and velocity. The pitch had good sink and even some occasional arm-side run, and should generate groundballs if he can hit his spots.
Barnes’ curve had very good depth and consistent shape, but simply could not throw it for a strike or to a spot. I believe the pitch has some hope to be commanded better due to its consistent shape, but based on what I saw Barnes has a lot of work to do with this pitch. It flashed plus, but if he cannot throw it over or hit spots then it will not be usable in any count other than 0-2 at the MLB-level.
This pitch really was not particularly good, and I can squint to maybe see a usable pitch in the long run. He tipped the pitch dramatically, dropping his arm and slowing it, which lead to hard contact nearly every time he tried to throw one. This pitch is by far the one that needs the most work.
|Feel for Pitching||35||50|
|Overall Grade||43 (45 adj)||53 (55 adj)|
While I believe the issues I noted with Barnes do exist, I think they may have been amplified by late season fatigue, and would not worry too much if I were a Red Sox fan. The secondary stuff can become good enough to be usable as a starter at the major-league level, if he can improve his command from what I saw Sunday. Looking at Barnes, I see a ceiling of a good-4 or a weak-3, depending on the rotation surrounding him.
Spencer is an independant scout and writes for a few websites. Be sure to give him a follow on Twitter at @BaseballSpencer