Barrett Barnes is the type of player the State College Spikes didnt receive in their first five years as a Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate.
Barnes is a supplemental first-round draft pick from a major college. If he agrees to terms within the next 10 days and the Pirates send him to State College, Barnes could begin this summer as the Spikes center fielder.
His background suggests he might succeed in the New York- Penn League. Barnes, the 45th overall pick, is a two-time first-team all-Big 12 selection who has hit .319 and belted 33 homers in three years at Texas Tech.
Barnes would even be a nice off-the-field fit in State College.
If Im doing any kind of fishing, Im more than happy, he said. Fishing and baseball are all I really need.
The Pirates went fishing for position players from major colleges on Monday and Tuesday, which might help the Spikes reverse their losing ways. Barnes is one five position players from a four-year college the Pirates selected in the first 11 rounds.
A lack of talented and polished everyday players has showed in the Spikes recent records, as they went 120-180 with two last-place finishes from 2008-11. Stanford right-hander Mark Appel, the organizations first-round selection Monday, is a difficult sign who might begin his professional career at a higher level. But Barnes, Georgia Tech outfielder Brandon Thomas (fourth round), North Carolina catcher Jacob Stallings (sixth), Cal-Irvine shortstop Douglas Crumlich (eighth) and North Carolina State shortstop Christopher Diaz (11th) could form a solid nucleus in State College.
The Pirates selected three position players from four-year colleges in the first 10 rounds last year, and 10th-rounder Taylor Lewis was the only one to spend the entire summer in State College. The Pirates didnt draft a position player from a major college in the first 10 rounds of the 2010 draft. They drafted two in the first 10 rounds in 09.
Barnes could become the second-highest drafted position player to wear a Spikes uniform. Catcher Tony Sanchez, the fourth overall pick in 2009, appeared in four games with the Spikes before a promotion to full-season West Virginia.
Three solid seasons at Texas Tech moved Barnes up draft boards. He had a strong junior season, hitting .326, cracking nine homers and stealing 19-of- 20 bases. The spring featured some fortuitous moments.
Every time I had a bad game there was nobody there watching, he said. Every time I had a good game it seemed like every single scout was in the stands.
Barnes was selected late Monday night. He spent the day fishing and tracking the draft at his Sugarland, Texas, home. He had an inkling he might be selected by the Pirates because the organization contacted him Monday morning.
I cant complain about what happened, he said. I went on the first day of the draft and was the 45th overall pick. I got drafted by a good organization that obviously likes me.
Barnes has spent the past three years facing some of the nations best competition. He was a three-year starter at Texas Tech and played two summers in the challenging wood-bat Cape Cod League. He described himself as an all-round player.
I do a little bit of everything, he said. It depends what I need to do for the team. At Texas Tech, I was in a power situation in the three hole, but I also steal bases and I can hit in the two hole and handle the bat well.
The 20-year-old will enter the Pirates farm system with little wear. He suffered his only significant injury as a sophomore.
The cause of the injury? Barnes ran into a wall trying to catch a fly ball hit by friend and Kansas State outfielder Jared King. Barnes received stitches and experienced migraines but he only missed one game.
Oh yeah, thats without a doubt me, he said of the play. I enjoy the game. I treat every game like its my last. Im not going to take a day for granted when I have that Pirates uniform on.
Guy Cipriano can be reached at 231-4643. Follow him on Twitter @cdtguy