Exclusive Scouting Report: AFL Rising Stars West

Jacob Barnes, RH Relief Pitcher, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 25 — 2015 Levels: AA Biloxi (SOU)

Barnes is older than the other guys I’ve talked about, but he fits into the category of the type of player that is valuable for the MLB teams themselves to be aware of. Because he’s older — and somewhat less of a “prospect” in terms of name-recognition and “value” — he’s a close-to-ready piece possessing a higher likelihood of being acquired by other organizations.

The 25-year-old 14th-rounder from Florida Gulf Coast has bounced between the rotation and bullpen as a professional, but his strong frame, big fastball, and limited third and fourth pitch make me see him as a better fit in the ‘pen. I think he could take off a little bit if he just was exposed to short stints — and it will be interesting to see how the Brewers choose to handle his development in this regard — and this is a guy who has the ceiling of a lower-leverage middle-reliever, but still a guy who can get lesser outs over the course of a big league season. There’s value there, especially when you consider he’s nearly at his peak (mid-to-late 20s), but would be playing for major league minimums for at least roughly two seasons.

Barnes showed a standard “middle reliever” package to me. He’s a large-framed, extra-muscular pitcher with rounded, broad shoulders and a built, barrel chest. He has a “physical” look to his delivery, with an aggressive drop-and-drive style delivery with a long, strong stride off his back leg. Barnes did a good job keeping his lines and landings to the plate consistent from the windup and stretch, both.

Barnes’ fastball sat in the 93-95 range with late bursting action and slight cut inside to left-handed bats. He pitched off his fastball primarily, but kept it around the zone. He showed a mid-80s slider that had about an average look; it didn’t have the look to me of a pitch that will miss bats at the ML level, but it also didn’t look like a guaranteed weakness that would be exposed at that level either. It was a short outing, but Barnes didn’t show a changeup, nor second-looks at his fastball or breaking ball.

Barnes seemed like the type of pitcher who will require above-average velocity to have success, and the best way to allow him to tap into that mid-90s heat will be to only have him get a few outs at a time. I wouldn’t expect Barnes to be a huge contributor to the back-end of the Brewers’ bullpen, but he is a good example of quality scouting: a later-round draft pick who has progressed through the system and now is right on the verge of contributing in a smaller, middle-relief capacity.

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