With Spring Training approaching it’s time to take a look at some of the Astros non-roster players who will be attempting to win a spot on the team. Brandon Barnes is one of the most interesting players in that group. Barnes has been in the Astros system since Houston picked him in the sixth round of the 2005 draft.
An outfielder, entering his age 26 season, Barnes has never posted eye-opening numbers in the minors. On the surface 2010 appears to have been an outstanding season for the Orange California native (.843 OPS.) But Barnes was a 24 year-old playing at High-A Lancaster which is known to be an offensive haven. Last season Barnes had some success at the AA level before advancing to AAA, where he produced a .197/.294/.402 slash line in 71 games.
With his chances of making it to the big leagues dwindling, Barnes decided to work on on his game over the winter- and that’s when things started to get interesting. Barnes chose to travel halfway around the world to play winter ball in Australia. As a member of the Sydney Blue Sox, Barnes posted an impressive .322/.382/.534 slash line in 29 games. Barnes was recognized as the most outstanding offensive player on his team, earning the Silver Slugger Award. This could be another instance of playing against inferior competition- I’m not sure. Either way, Barnes’ dedication has earned him an invite to Spring Training with the Astros and anything can happen.
There will be plenty of players in camp competing for spots in a crowded Astros outfield. If Barnes has indeed taken his game to the next level he could have a shot at making the club. Chances are Barnes will start the year at AAA Oklahoma City. If he continues to improve we could see Barnes in an Astros uniform very soon.