- Full name Joshua LaRoy Barfield
- Born 12/17/1982 in Barquisimento, Venezuela
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 190 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Klein Oak
- Debut 04/03/2006
- Drafted in the 4th round (120th overall) by the San Diego Padres in 2001.
Organization Prospect Rankings
On the heels of a disappointing Double-A performance in 2004, when he was hampered by hamstring troubles, Barfield improved his conditioning. He got off to a slow start at Triple-A Portland in 2005, but recovered to hit .343-11-50 over the final three months. His father Jesse hit 241 career homers in the majors, and his brother Jeremy is a rising high school prospect. Barfield has excellent bat speed and is at his best when he drives the ball to right-center. He has worked to improve his patience at the plate. He made strides defensively and is no longer expected to have to move to left field. Barfield can be unorthodox both at the plate and in the field, yet it's hard to argue with the results. Pitchers can beat him inside, and he pulls off pitches to compensate. He hits better in clutch situations because he concentrates on using the whole field, an approach he should take into every at-bat. The trade of Mark Loretta to Boston for Doug Mirabelli cleared a path to the lineup for Barfield. Unless he flops in spring training, he should be San Diego's Opening Day starter.
Though he had obvious bloodlines as the son of former American League home run king Jesse Barfield, Barfield didn't get a ton of play as a high school prospect. The Padres did a good job of scouting him, however, and signed him away from a Baylor scholarship by giving him $400,000 as a fourth-round pick in 2001. After leading the minors in hits (185), doubles (46), RBIs (128) and extra-base hits (68) while bothered by a sore wrist in 2003, he entered last season as San Diego's top prospect, just ahead of eventual Baseball America Rookie of the Year Khalil Greene. Barfield injured a hamstring in spring training and it never fully healed, hurting his offensive game. He batted just .248--68 points below his previous career average--but missed just two games, set a career high with 18 homers and led the Double-A Southern League with 90 RBIs. Even with his off year, he's still easily the top hitter in the system. Barfield has a quick swing and uses the whole field, with no discernible weakness when it comes to pitch location. His power continues to develop and he projects to hit 20-25 home runs annually in the big leagues. Barfield provides an argument to those who believe that there's no such thing as clutch hitting. He seems to take pressure situations as a personal challenge. Over the last three years, he has hit an average of 52 points higher with runners in scoring position, including a .331 mark in 2004. He's an average baserunner, making up for speed that's a tick below-average with excellent instincts. Once thought to be destined for left field, Barfield has put considerable effort into his second-base defense. He should be able to stay at second and provide average glovework with a plus arm. His makeup is another positive. Barfield became frustrated by his inability to find a groove in 2004 and pressed at times. That led to a long swing and a pull-happy approach. He's guilty of guessing on pitches too often. He has a bit of a late trigger in his swing, so he can be neutralized with good fastballs when he's looking for something else. Barfield has problems with righthanders--he hit .196 against them last year--particularly with diving after breaking pitches that finish outside of the plate. Defensively, he still needs to work on his lateral movement and his double-play pivot. He has played all but seven games the last two years, but he rarely has been completely healthy during that time. San Diego sees Barfield's batting average as the only real bump in the road from his Double-A performance, and has no worries about him. With Mark Loretta coming off a career year and locked up through 2006, the Padres have no reason to rush Barfield. He's expected to be 100 percent physically in spring training and should spend most of the season at Triple-A Portland. He'll likely make his major league debut in September.
Since Bill Gayton took over as scouting director in September 2000, the Padres have spent just three of their 30 choices in the first 10 rounds on high school players. Only the Athletics have made a stronger effort to avoid prep picks. Yet San Diego's three high school selections happen to be three of its top prospects: Barfield (fourth round, 2001), righthander David Pauley (eighth, 2001) and lefty Sean Thompson (fifth, 2002). The son of former American League home run champ Jesse Barfield, Josh turned down a Baylor scholarship to sign for $300,000. He didn't receive much hype coming out of high school, and little more when he hit better than .300 in his first two pro seasons. After a breakout 2003, Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks and Arizona's Scott Hairston are his only rivals as the top second-base prospects in the game. Barfield won MVP honors in the high Class A California League and led the minors in hits, doubles, RBIs and extra-base hits. The organization's minor league player of the year in 2003, Barfield did it all despite being bothered by a sore right wrist for much of the year. He had offseason surgery to repair ligament damage, which prevented him from playing in the Arizona Fall League. Barfield is a rare second baseman who's capable of batting third in the order. He uses his quick stroke to smoke line drives all over the field. Not only is he the best hitter in the system, but he's also the best at making adjustments. Some of his doubles will carry over the fence once he gains more strength and experience, giving him 25-homer power. Barfield isn't a speedster or a future Gold Glover, but he's a better runner and defender than most people realize. He complements average speed with fine instincts, and he has succeeded on 77 percent of his basestealing attempts in the minors. The Padres say Barfield will be able to stay at second base, where his sure hands are his best asset. Nevertheless, Barfield isn't a surefire second baseman. He shows a solid-average arm when he only has time to react, but he often makes tentative throws on routine ground balls. He's still smoothing out his footwork and his double-play pivot. If he fills out like his father, who played at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, Barfield may have to move to the outfield. At the plate, he tends to dive into pitches and will have to learn to turn on balls when pitchers work him inside. He could stand to draw a few more walks, though he nearly doubled his total from 27 in 2002 to 50 last year. In August, the Padres signed incumbent second baseman Mark Loretta to a two-year, $5.25 million contract extension with a vesting option for 2006. Unless Barfield's development slows considerably, however, he should be ready by mid-2005 at the latest. His wrist will be 100 percent for spring training, and he'll open 2004 at Double-A Mobile.
He's the son of former American League home run champion Jesse Barfield, so perhaps it should be no surprise how quickly Josh has adapted to pro ball. He hit .310 in the Rookie-level Pioneer League in his 2001 pro debut. In his first full season, he led the low Class A Midwest League in hits and shared organization player of the year honors with Jon Knott. Unlike his father, who was more of a dead-pull power hitter, Barfield already uses the entire field. He makes consistently hard contact and started making adjustments against breaking balls in 2002. He should develop average to plus power as he gets stronger and more experienced. A good athlete, he has soft hands and average speed. Barfield might outgrow second base, though he should have enough bat to play elsewhere. He needs to address his footwork and double-play pivot. Offensively, his swing can get loopy at times and he needs a tighter strike zone. Barfield is ready for high Class A. He's three years younger but just one level behind Jake Gautreau, and their future battle for San Diego's second-base job should be fun to watch.
The Padres entered 2001 with a deep store of pitching but not nearly as much hitting in their system. They rectified that situation in Bill Gayton's first draft as scouting director, getting more quality bats last June than any other organization. Barfield wasn't the most heralded Texas high school prospect and lasted until the fourth round, then opened a lot of eyes with a strong pro debut against Rookie-level Pioneer League pitchers who generally were 2-3 years older than he was. The son of former American League home run champ Jesse Barfield, Josh already has an advanced understanding of the game. He recognizes pitches, makes adjustments and is fundamentally sound. He's athletic and getting stronger, so his ceiling with the bat is very high. He hit two monster blasts over the center-field batting eye during instructional league, a sign of his power potential. While he played some shortstop last summer, Barfield spent most of his time at second base. He runs well and has soft hands and average range. If he gets as big as his father, he'll probably move to third base or perhaps a corner-outfield spot. San Diego is looking forward to seeing how he handles low Class A this year.
Minor League Top Prospects
Barfield has a reputation as one of the best clutch hitters in the minors. He has consistently hit higher with runners in scoring position, including a .347 mark this year. But scouts say Barfield's performance reflects his stubbornness. He has a hole on the inside part of the plate, so he pulls off pitches and opponents know the best way to get him out is to work him away. But in crucial situations, Barfield changes his approach, stays on pitches and uses the whole field--making him a better hitter. The consensus among scouts who saw him in the PCL was that Barfield would be best served by shortening his swing and hitting that way all of the time. He constantly has tinkered with his swing, and though he hit well after adding a trigger at midseason, scouts still weren't totally sold that he'd cut it as a big league regular. They did give him credit for improving his defense and no longer believe he'll have to move off second base.
Another player whose talent was masked by injuries, Barfield hit just .248 after batting .316 over his first three pro seasons. A hamstring injury cost him almost all of spring training, and he never got in a good groove at the plate. It's a testament to his talent and makeup that he still led the league with 90 RBIs and set a Mobile record for games (138). Managers said he was the best situational hitter in the league and thrived in pressure situations. "Every time there were RBIs on base, he would have a great at-bat," Jones said. Barfield will be an above-average hitter who uses the whole field and has good pop for a second baseman. He pulled off the ball against righthanders, but lefties couldn't get him out as he batted .332 against them. He does need to tighten his strike zone. Barfield also proved to be better than advertised on defense. He's a below-average runner but better than that once he gets going, and he showed average range and arm strength. Both his footwork and exchange improved during the season, and scouts now project him to stay at second base as a solid defender.
Barfield claimed the Cal League MVP award and his second straight Padres organization player-of-the-year honor on the strength of his minor league- leading 128 RBIs. Slugging runs in the family, as his father Jesse won the AL home run title in 1986. Josh is geared to drive the ball to the opposite field because he dives into the plate. That's a potential problem in the upper levels, though he has enough life in his bat and plus bat speed to compensate. He'll need to make an adjustment to learn how to turn on pitches. He projects as an offensive-minded second baseman, but he made defensive progress. A well-rounded athlete with good baseball instincts, Barfield would move to left field if the Padres decide he can't play second base.
The raw ingredients are there for Barfield to develop into a quality big leaguer. He's athletic and offers more offense than the typical second baseman. He led the league in hits as a teenager. And he even has good bloodlines as the son of former American League home run champ Jesse Barfield. He was the best defender among the MWL's second-base prospects but still has work to do with the glove. He needs to focus better and improve his footwork and double-play skills. Offensively, he started to avoid chasing low breaking balls out of the strike zone, yet he also must recognize the benefits of drawing a walk.
There isn't one aspect of Barfield's game that overwhelms opponents. Instead, the son of former major leaguer Jesse Barfield has a package in which the total is greater than the individual parts. "He's a big leaguer, a guy who is going to be a good offensive second baseman," Provo manager Tom Kotchman said. "He's going to hit. He was only a puppy in this league but he more than held his own. He's got the makeup and the bloodlines. He's a breath of fresh air." Considered raw by most managers, Barfield is a solid second baseman with great hands, above-average range and an arm that is plenty strong for the position. He also has good bat speed, and understands what pitchers are trying to accomplish against him. His greatest strengths, according to the managers, are his unparalleled instincts and overall athleticism. "He doesn't seem to get fooled by many pitches for such a young player," Ogden manager Eddie Sedar said. "He's a mature kid who has great character and a great attitude toward the game."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the San Diego Padres in 2005
- Rated Best Batting Prospect in the California League in 2003