Astros Prospect Profile: Matthew Barefoot, Man With a Plan
By the time baseball players are drafted they’ve spent thousands of hours honing their skills, repeating their swings or deliveries in the never ending quest for repeatable perfection.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement and perhaps even a change in approach, whether that comes as soon as they join an organization or somewhere down the line.
Such is the case with Matthew Barefoot, the Houston Astros sixth-round pick in 2019. A pre-draft MLB profile noted that Barefoot’s swing had “a lot of movement and effort in his unorthodox swing”.
To rectify this, Matthew Barefoot began working on his swing after joining the Astros organization, initially working with Sean Godfrey.
"“The changes I made after college were necessary”, Barefoot told Climbing Tal’s Hill."
With a goal of making the moves in his swing more efficient, Barefoot and Godfrey collaborated and worked to keep Barefoot’s load simple, which translates to easy power.
With a new approach and better competition Barefoot struggled with the leap from college to the professional ranks, batting .155 with only one extra base hit, two RBI and 17 strikeouts in 71 at bats for Tri-City of the New York/Penn League in 2019.
After no minor league games were played during the 2020 season, Barefoot came out blazing last season at Low A Fayetteville slashing .344/.392/.625 with four home runs, 17 RBI in 64 at-bats, along with ten stolen bases in eleven attempts before being promoted to High A Asheville on May 23rd.
Barefoot’s assault on the baseball continued as he accumulated a .287 average with twelve home runs and 35 RBI in 195 at-bats before making another leap to Double A Corpus Christi in early August.
Though he hit only .175 in 137 at-bats with the Hooks, Barefoot hit another 4 homers and sixteen RBI to finish the season batting .258 with 20 home runs and 68 RBI across all three levels while being successful on 21 of 25 stolen base attempts.
While Barefoot believes he made strides in base running and fielding in 2021 and the easy power came, he admits he needed to address a flaw in his swing that popped up late last season. “This offseason I’ve created a plan to be able to bring my swing to the park as consistently as possible.”
With a build similar to Chas McCormick, Barefoot has played all three outfield positions (and DH) as a professional and while he doesn’t have a preference, he does want to prove he can play center field and has identified a key to achieving that goal.
"“I want to prove I can play center field and improving my initial reads on the ball from the outfield is a key to that,” Barefoot said. “I felt I improved on that last year and want to keep getting better in that aspect.”"
Barefoot explained that he’s also working on his arm, which is an integral skill for a Major League outfielder, especially one that could potentially play all three positions. “I want to make my arm more of a tool in the outfield.”
For baseball players, even professional ones, there’s always something to work on, something to tweak, something to improve upon in the quest to reach The Show.
From his swing, to his base running, to his fielding and even his arm, Matthew Barefoot is a man who identifies areas for improvement, makes a plan and goes to work.