Then & Now: Scott Barnes

Then & Now is a weekly feature at Indians Prospect Insider during the offseason that takes a look at a prospect’s past and present while also offering a possible glimpse into the prospect’s future.

Of all the Cleveland Indians prospects that made their debut during the 2012 season, perhaps none were more impressive than left-handed pitcher Scott Barnes.

The left-hander with the sneaky delivery was acquired by the Indians back in the summer of 2009 from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Ryan Garko. Since then, the Springfield, MA native has seen his stock steadily rise within the Indians organization.

The rise was culminated this past season when he made his debut with the Tribe on May 30. Barnes had his ups and one very specific down with the team, but it seems as if most would agree that the 6 foot, 4 inch, 200-pounder proved that he is indeed a Major League talent.

It’s interesting to see how Barnes has progressed. He’s overcome some poor seasons to essentially cement himself as one of the more promising arms in the system.

Now, it’s just up to him to go from a promising prospect to a promising Major Leaguer. He could be well on his way.

Then:

Barnes was drafted by the Giants in the 8th Round of the 2008 Draft out of St. John’s University. He then made his debut that year at the team’s rookie affiliate before making it all the way to the Single-A level. Between three different teams, Barnes posted an ERA of 2.06 in 43 2/3 innings of work.

The numbers were quite good, but considering that Barnes was already 20 years old and facing much lesser competition, they probably should have been expected.

In 2009, the Indians acquired Barnes when his stock could not have been higher. The left-hander had started 18 games that year for High-A San Jose and sported a 12-3 record with a 2.85 ERA. He also was striking out 9.1 batters per nine innings at the time the Indians acquired him.

However, Barnes unfortunately did not perform nearly as well after joining the Indians. He ended the season at Double-A Akron where he posted a 5.68 ERA in six starts. Granted, it was only six starts, but it was somewhat discouraging considering the expectations for Barnes coming in.

Unfortunately, things did not get any better during the 2010 season. Barnes spent the entire season back at Akron, and the numbers ended up being eerily similar to the ones that he posted the previous summer. In 26 starts and 138 innings, Barnes posted a 5.22 ERA. Perhaps the only positive was that Barnes was still generating a decent amount of strikeouts (8.3 K/9), so it seemed to serve as evidence that his stuff was not the problem.

Finally, everything seemed to click for Barnes in 2011. He seemed to display a much better presence on the mound than in years past. Also, his command was much better as evidenced by the fact that he walked 3.3 batters per nine innings, which was the lowest walk rate Barnes had posted since joining the Indians.

Overall, Barnes went 8-4 in 99 innings between Akron and Triple-A Columbus that season. Unfortunately, Barnes season ended prematurely because of a torn ACL that he suffered in July. But aside from that setback, 2011 proved to be a career year for Barnes.

Now:

2011 was a career year for Barnes… that is, until 2012.

2012 marked the year that Barnes made his Major League debut. Barnes left quite a mark in his time with the Indians, only this he left that mark in a role that he previously had not been accustomed too — as a reliever.

Barnes was originally called up by the Indians in May and while things started off smoothly, a certain relief appearance in mid June would go down as one of the lowest points of Barnes’ professional career.

On June 14th, Barnes entered a game against the Cincinnati Reds and proceeded to get rocked. When all was said and done, Barnes’ line looked like this: 1/3 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR.

Barnes seemed to struggle initially in subsequent outings as he allowed at least one run in each of his next three appearances before he finally was sent down to rejoin the Clippers in Columbus. However, it was not long before Barnes found himself back in Cleveland as he was a September callup, and this time, he looked to be a different, much more confident pitcher.

From Sept. 2 to Oct. 2, Barnes pitched in nine games and pitched nine scoreless innings while allowing only five hits and striking out six. The strong stint helped lower Barnes’ season ERA to 4.26. The sample size was small, but it also offered a glimpse of the ability that Barnes possessed. The Indians had already seen him excel as a starter in the minor leagues, but now he was excelling as a reliever and in the Major Leagues, no less.

Future:

With Rafael Perez being designated for assignment and with Tony Sipp being traded away, the Indians now have a legitimate need for left-handed relievers at the Major League level.

Given his strong finish, one would think that Barnes has a leg up on the competition for one of those spots. However, the Indians may also decide that they want to further develop Barnes as a starting pitcher, which could result in him starting the season in the rotation at Columbus.

However, more likely than not, Barnes will be a member of the Tribe’s bullpen come opening day. This could end up only being a temporary thing though as the Indians may decide to move Barnes back into a starting role sometime in the future.

In any case, Barnes offers plenty of flexibility. He can relief and if needed, he could be stretched out to start. This bodes very well for Barnes’ Major League future, which seems to be right now.

Previous Then & Now profiles:

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