Astros' Barnes Takes Advantage Of Opportunity





HOUSTON—Fourteen games into his Arizona Fall League campaign, the inclusion of Astros outfield prospect Brandon Barnes seemed to be a no-brainer.

But it wasn't that easy. The Astros had to make a decision in the wake of outfielder J.B. Shuck's season-ending knee injury. Barnes had occupied the purgatory that is the twice-a-week taxi squad in the AFL, and the organization debated bringing in reinforcements from outside the league instead of promoting Barnes.

"We just chose to let him play, and because of it, we'll probably reap the benefits down the road," farm director Fred Nelson said.

Barnes was elevated to the full-time roster, and despite never getting more than a cup of coffee above the high Class A level, the 24-year-old held his own, hitting .293/.328/.534 with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 58 at-bats.

Barnes hit .269/.326/.517 at hitter-friendly high Class A Lancaster before earning a late-season promotion to Triple-A Round Rock. A 2005 sixth-round pick out of Cypress (Calif.) JC, he hit 27 of his 28 home runs in the California League. That total was up from 18 in 2009 and two in 2008.

Barnes overcame a rough start, entering June with a .253 average, before heating up and reaching .289 by July 1 with similar increases in his other numbers.

Lancaster manager Tom Lawless said during the season that Barnes became a more productive hitter once he stopped swinging at balls out of the strike zone.

SPACE SHOTS

• Shuck saw doctors in Arizona and in Houston and was shut down after five AFL games. He was expected to make a full recovery in time for spring training.

• Henry Villar had an abbreviated Double-A season because of a major league callup, but he worked just six innings in his extended time in the big leagues, so he was getting in extra work pitching for Licey of the Dominican League. Villar was among a host of Astros and former Astros on the Tigres team managed by Houston third-base coach Dave Clark.