By Kevin Goldstein
December 22, 2005
The rapidly improving Brewers made a small move Wednesday to shore up their bullpen, sending minor league pitcher Justin Barnes to the Royals for righthander Chris Demaria,
Demaria, 25, was selected by the Royals in the minor league phase of the Rule Five draft in 2004, and while he started the year in High Class A High Desert, he finished it in the big leagues. A 17th-round pick by the Pirates in 2002 out of Long Beach State, Demaria went 8-3, 2.94 with 10 saves for low Class A Hickory in 2004 before being selected by the Royals.
In 2005, he was one of the few pitchers to find success pitching in High Desert, the friendliest hitting park in the minors, where he went 4-2, 2.23 with 19 saves in 48 games. His success continued at Double-A Wichita, where he compiled a 1.76 ERA in 10 appearances before spending the last three weeks of the season in the Royals bullpen, where he had a 9.00 ERA in nine innings. His career minor league record is 19-10, 2.81 in 139 games with 256 strikeouts in 233 innings. Demaria’s fastball only gets into the upper 80s, but he spots it well and uses it to set-up a plus-plus changeup that features plenty of deception and was considered the best in the Royals system before the deal.
Barnes, 23, was selected in the 15th round of 2002 draft out of Manatee (Fla.) JC. A two-way player in college, Barnes began his pro career as a third baseman, but converted to the mound in 2004. Last year as low Class A West Virginia, Barnes went 9-2, 3.18 over 79 innings in 29 games, including three starts at the end of the season. In his two-year career as a pitcher, Barnes is 13-7, 4.03 in 136 innings, with 143 strikeouts against just 39 walks. Barnes has decent stuff with a low-90s fastball, a cutter and a solid curve. He commands all of his pitches well, but lacks a real out pitch, particularly against lefthanded batters, who hit 88 points higher (.280) against him than did righthanders (.192).