Red Sox Land Show-Stealer Barnes





BOSTON A year ago, the Red Sox went to the Cape to see if their much-hyped draft pick Anthony Ranaudo once again looked like a top college pitcher. What they saw was a pitcher who looked very much like he was rounding back into his top-of-the-rotation form—and another pitcher who was even more dominant.

Ranaudo allowed just one hit and struck out eight over 6 2/3 shutout innings for Brewster. But that outing was upstaged by an electrifying performance from Connecticut righthander Matt Barnes.

Barnes, pitching for Wareham in the Cape Cod League for the second straight summer, yielded one run on four hits while striking out 14 in seven innings of work. The Sox front office was there in full force to see the performance.

"Matt was excited and wanted to pitch that night," Wareham coach Cooper Farris recalled. "I thought Matt outpitched him. I know the Red Sox had just about everyone here. It was a quick game, didn't last very long, under two hours. Matt was on top of everything. Ranaudo had trouble with his off-speed stuff that night. His fastball was really good. It was a great matchup and fun to watch."

Barnes was undrafted out of high school in Connecticut, but by his sophomore year, when his velocity ticked up into the mid-90s (topping out at 98 mph), he had established himself as a prospect. From his freshman to his sophomore summer, Farris saw significant progress in both the shape and command of Barnes' curveball, as well as an improved changeup (albeit a pitch that lagged behind the righthander's primary offerings).

The Wareham coach said that the seemingly effortless delivery and explosive life on Barnes' pitches reminded him of the hard-throwing Sox reliever Daniel Bard. He also raved about the pitcher's work ethic, noting that he and UConn teammate George Springer were the first players to field every day, typically arriving by 10 a.m.

This draft season, Barnes had been projected as high as a top-five pick before slipping a bit among a strong class of college pitchers. Still, the Sox were elated that he remained on the board when they were picking.

Scouting director Amiel Sawdaye said that the Sox view him as a "middle of the rotation guy" with "three plus pitches."

"We were excited to get him," Sawdaye said. "Given the fact that he was at 19, we got really excited. I'll leave it at that."

SOX YARNS

• With their second first-round pick (No. 26), the Sox tabbed high school catcher Blake Swihart out of New Mexico. The switch-hitter was the highest catcher picked by the Sox since John Marzano in 1984.

The team took high school lefthander Henry Owens in the sandwich round, describing the 6-foot-6 hurler as capable of touching 94 mph with advanced feel for three pitches. The Sox said they were comfortable with the medicals of outfielder Jackie Bradley, who slipped to the sandwich round (No. 40) in part due to concerns about a surgically repaired left wrist.