- Full name Tucker J. Barnhart
- Born 01/07/1991 in Indianapolis, IN
- Profile Ht.: 5'11" / Wt.: 192 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- School Brownsburg
- Debut 04/03/2014
Drafted in the 10th round (299th overall) by the Cincinnati Reds in 2009 (signed for $250,000).
View Draft ReportBrownsburg High has churned out more than its share of prospects in recent years. Lance Lynn, a 2005 graduate, went on to Mississippi and became a supplemental first-round pick of the Cardinals last June. Drew Storen, a 2007 graduate, now attends Stanford and could sneak into the first round in 2009. Barnhart won't go as high as those righthanders, but he could be a fourth- or fifth-round pick for a club that isn't scared by his commitment to Georgia Tech. He's a switch-hitter with a good stroke from both sides of the plate and some power as a lefthander. He's strong for his size (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) and very athletic for a catcher. His speed is below average but he moves well behind the plate and is capable of playing the middle infield. He has soft hands and solid arm strength, and scouts laud his aptitude, instincts and work ethic. Some worry about his size and think he may be maxed out physically, while others think he has enough tools to eventually become a big league regular.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Barnhart made his big league debut in 2014, filling in when Devin Mesoraco missed time with hamstring and oblique injuries. He performed as advertised. Barnhart won't ever hit enough to be a regular, especially because of the switch-hitter's long-running trouble with lefthanders. Hitting righthanded, Barnhart has a slow swing with no power, which explains why he's hit .153/.221/.186 against southpaws over the past four years. From the left side, he's much better. He still has no power, but he makes contact, sprays singles and draws walks. Defensively, Barnhart's plus, accurate arm helped him throw out 8 of 12 basestealers (66 percent) at the big league level. He calls a good game, and pitchers like throwing to him, but he needs to work on his pitch-framing skills. He'll compete with Brayan Pena for the backup job.
Barnhart's defensive prowess has been noted for years. Scouts first noticed him when he caught Nationals righthander Drew Storen during Barnhart's sophomore year. He developed into one of the nation's best prep defensive catchers thanks in part to his high school coach Patrick O'Neil, a former Rays scout. Barnhart's defense is big league caliber right now. He blocks pitches well, calls a good game and has excellent agility. Thanks to a quick release and a strong arm, he turns in sub-1.9-seconds pop times regularly. He threw out 37 percent of basestealers this year at Double-A Pensacola, which actually is a dip from the 41 percent he has thrown out in his career. At the plate, Barnhart showed better bat control after switching to a shorter, lighter bat, but he's a bottom-of-the-order spray hitter with well-below-average power. Unlike many switch-hitters, Barnhart is a natural lefthanded hitter, and it shows. He's never hit well from the right side, and his career average as a lefthanded hitter is more than 100 points higher. He has yet to hit a hit a home run batting righty. Barnhart is ready for Triple-A Louisville and is a likely candidate to be added to the 40-man roster this winter. His catch-and-throw skills and contact bat profile him as a second-division regular who could have a long career at a valuable defensive spot.
Barnhart may never hit .250 in the big leagues, yet he could still have a major league career as a backup catcher because of his glove. The best defensive catcher in the system, he has a heady approach behind the plate. He calls a good game, blocks pitches well and does a good job of pitch framing. His arm isn't especially strong, but his good footwork and quick release generate 1.95-second pop times, allowing him to throw out 38 percent of basestealers in 2012. At the plate, the switch-hitting Barnhart has a better swing from the left side. All six of his homers and both of his triples last year came against righthanders, while lefties held him to a .168 average. He has a short stroke from the left side and tries to spray line drives. From the right side, the swing is a little sweepier with less power. His hitting ability is ahead of his power, but both tools grade below average if not worse, so his glove will have to get him to the big leagues. Barnhart struggled in his first exposure to Double-A pitchers, he'll continue grinding by returning there to start the 2013 season.
In a system with two of baseball's best catching prospects in Devin Mesoraco and Yasmani Grandal, Barnhart understandably ranks a distant third. Despite that, he's one of the safer bets among Reds farmhands to have a big league career. His catch-and-throw skills alone should allow him to find a job as at least a backup catcher. Barnhart sets up well behind the plate, is a solid receiver and has a quick release that makes his average arm play up. His fast transfer helped him throw out 47 percent of basestealers in 2011. Barnhart has a lot more work to do as a hitter. Scouts suggest he may need to give up switch-hitting because he's helpless from the right side He doesn't have much power, but he makes line-drive contact and draws walks from the left side. Like many catchers, he's a well below-average runner. Barnhart could prove useful as a lefthanded-hitting catcher with defensive skills. He's ready for high Class A in 2012.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Cincinnati Reds in 2014
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Cincinnati Reds in 2013
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the California League in 2012
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Cincinnati Reds in 2012