About two and a half years ago, the Cleveland Indians swapped Ryan Garko for a somewhat intriguing southpaw in the San Francisco Giants' farm system.
Scott Barnes had gone 12-3 with a 2.85 ERA, a 9.09 K/9 and a 2.66 BB/9 in 98 innings in the advanced A California League that year. He didn't fare so well upon his promotion to Double-A Akron (5.30 ERA in 169 2/3 frames in 2009 and 2010), but he showed up on the radars of fantasy baseball prospectors in very deep leagues.
The left-hander's poor 2010 showing certainly took some wind out of his sails, but his 8.28 K/9 at the Class AA level for that season and a half still hinted at his upside, despite his 3.82 BB/9 in that stretch. Last year, he made only two starts - outstanding outings - for Akron before the club promoted him to Triple-A Columbus.
Hernandez et al. lack punch
In the International League, Barnes made an impression with his 3.68 ERA, 9.20 K/9 and 3.48 BB/9 in 88 stanzas. In fact, as Indians manager Manny Acta reportedly uttered to the media in September, the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder would've made some appearances for the big club last year.
He would've, but he didn't, because in a July 10 start for the Clippers, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament while trying to field a bunt. Barnes, 24, is back, at 100 percent, supposedly.
Evaluators call his stuff, minus his changeup, average, but the trickery he's added increases its effectiveness. Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer described the arsenal:
Left-hander Scott Barnes has a deceptive delivery, turning his back to the hitter before releasing the ball. He throws a fastball, slider and change. His velocity ranges from 90-94 mph.
Today, Cleveland optioned Barnes to the minors, but he made a good impression in his seven shutout innings, with six K's and only one walk. He'll get a shot at some point this summer. Because of his improved repertoire, aided by that craftiness, he should port that rate of strikeouts per nine innings to the majors with only a modest decrease. Give him around 7.00 K/9, give or take.
After Roberto Hernandez re-enters the U.S. and trades in his Carmona threads, the Indians' rotation won't lack depth, but it may lack bankable arms. There's no reason that Barnes can't prove to be a better option than Jeanmar Gomez, Kevin Slowey, David Huff, Zach McAllister or Corey Kluber at some point this year.
It's unlikely that Barnes will have value in mixed leagues. But he's completely off the radar in 2012, and the sneaky southpaw is worth a reserve pick in deep Junior Circuit leagues. Tuck a little FAAB legal tender aside.
Think you can beat me? Give it a shot. I'm in the RealTime Fantasy Baseball Championship, Gold league. Plenty of cash prizes, even if you're afraid to jump into my division.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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