- Full name Daric William Barton
- Born 08/16/1985 in Springfield, VT
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 215 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- School Marina
- Debut 09/10/2007
Drafted in the 1st round (28th overall) by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003 (signed for $975,000).
View Draft ReportThe 5-foot-11, 205-pound Barton might have been a candidate for the first round if his body didn't resemble that of short, squatty big leaguer Matt Stairs. Barton can flat-out hit. He has one of the best lefthanded bats in the draft and can hit for both average and power. He is short to the ball and balanced throughout his swing. His skills behind the plate are only fringe average, and he has spent most of the season at third base--his coach's son has claimed most of the playing time behind the plate. Barton profiles as an American League player, and the Rangers have reportedly focused on him in the second round.
Organization Prospect Rankings
After the Athletics acquired Barton from the Cardinals in the Mark Mulder deal in December 2004, he quickly established himself as the organization's top prospect while moving from catcher to first base. But his path was derailed just two months into the 2006 season at Triple-A Sacramento, when an infield collision with Tony Womack left Barton with a broken left elbow. He returned briefly in the Rookie-level Arizona League in August before reporting to the Dominican League, where his elbow flared up again and he left after just 14 at-bats. Finally healthy again in 2007, Barton had a streaky year in Triple-A. He was on fire in June, when he batted .454 with 17 extra-base hits. He hit .550 with four homers in the first round of the Pacific Coast League playoffs before getting his first major league callup in September. Oakland general manager Billy Beane called Barton the best hitter in the minors when the Athletics acquired him, and he's easily the system's top pure hitter. He has a sweet, fluid stroke and repeats it well. He has incorporated more and more loft as he has moved up the ladder, giving him more power. He has outstanding bat control, and his quick hands allow him to punish pitches all over the strike zone. Barton uses the whole field and has little difficulty shortening his swing to fire line drives into the left-center gap. His biggest strength, and obviously something the Athletics value highly, is his strike-zone discipline. He works deep counts and consistently makes hard contact. He has exceptional hand-eye coordination that has allowed him to amass more walks than strikeouts every year since his pro debut in 2003. Scouts aren't sold on Barton's power, though several point to how similar he is to James Loney, who also didn't show much pop in the minors. The difference is that Loney has a bigger body than Barton. During his catching days, the main knock on Barton was his lack of athleticism and his slow feet. Now that he's at first base, the questions remain the same. He has worked hard on his footwork around the bag and his reactions at first base, but he's still a slightly below-average defender with a tick below average arm strength. He also doesn't run well at all and his heavy lower half isn't an asset. His work ethic was brought into question by scouts who saw him at Sacramento, as he seemed to just be cruising until he got called up. Barton's lack of raw power and defensive concerns could limit his overall ceiling. Unless he improves defensively, he won't be suited for anything but DH duty. Barring a resurgence from Dan Johnson, however, Barton should be Oakland's first baseman in 2008.
Acquired from the Cardinals in the Mark Mulder trade in December 2004, Barton established himself as the A's top prospect and played in the Futures Game in 2005. In 2006, however, his progress halted when he broke his left elbow in a first-base collision with Tony Womack in Triple- A. Barton returned to the Rookie-level Arizona League briefly in August, then played full-time in the Dominican League. Oakland general manager Billy Beane called Barton the best hitter in the minors when he traded for him, and he remains the system's best pure hitter. He has a textbook swing, fluid and short with a bit of loft, hinting at future power. His exceptional plate discipline allowed him to control the strike zone at Triple-A as a 20-year-old, and he's advanced enough to know to use the whole field. Barton wasn't tearing up Triple-A before his injury. Even those who believe in Barton's power grade it as average at best, and if he doesn't develop that kind of pop he'll be a less-than-intimidating threat for a first baseman. To keep hitting for average and to make himself an average defender at first base, he'll have to work harder on staying in shape. His thickening lower half could leave him well-below-average as a runner. Frank Thomas' departure as a free agent could create an opportunity for Barton. He probably needs more minor league time, especially considering the former catcher still hasn't played the equivalent of a full season at first base. A big spring training could make it hard to keep his bat out of the Oakland lineup, however.
Considered one of the top lefthanded bats in the 2003 draft, Barton fell to the Cardinals with the 28th pick because of his bad body and fringy defensive skills. Signed for $975,000, Barton quickly established himself as the top prospect in the St. Louis system. In his first full season, he led the low Class A Midwest League in on-base percentage and finished fourth in slugging. Looking for a starter to headline their rotation, the Cardinals sent three players to the Athletics for Mark Mulder in December 2004. While Dan Haren would win 14 games for Oakland in 2005, Barton was considered the key player in the deal. General manager Billy Beane called Barton the best pure hitter in the minors after acquiring him. The A's decided the rigors of catching were hindering Barton's development, so they moved him to first base in spring training. He hit just .241 at high Class A Stockton in April but found his groove afterward. He hit .404 in June and earned a promotion to Double-A Midland before his 20th birthday. He went 9-for-16 in his first five games in Double-A and reached base in 50 of his 56 contests there. Hitting comes easy for Barton, who has natural ability to go along with a mature approach. He has a short swing and picture-perfect mechanics, with a fluid load and quick explosion through the zone. His pitch recognition is off the charts. He draws a large number of walks while still being an aggressive hitter, equally comfortable turning on inside fastballs or slicing outside breaking balls the other way. Barton holds his own against lefthanders. He took well to first base in his first year there and shows the potential for improvement. He has good instincts, soft hands and decent range. Barton's power potential is the subject of debate among scouts. He has a tendency to drop the barrel of the bat and slice balls into the gaps. The A's are convinced he'll eventually produce 25-30 homers on an annual basis, citing his hitting ability and the scouting axiom that power often is the last tool to develop. Others think he might top out at 15-20 homers, less than ideal production for a first baseman. Questions about his work ethic have dogged Barton in the past. His inability to remain a catcher was due more to lack of effort than lack of ability. He's a below-average runner, and his conditioning could improve. The A's have no immediate plans to move Barton back behind the plate, where his offensive skills would give him star potential, but they haven't completely ruled it out yet either. While his bat is nearly ready for the big leagues, Barton would need substantial time in the minors if he returned to catching. He'll begin the year playing first base at Triple-A Sacramento, and could make his major league debut before he turns 21 in August. Oakland almost certainly will have to make a decision as to how to get his bat permanently in the lineup by Opening Day 2007.
Barton was considered one of the best high school hitters in the 2003 draft, but concerns about his defense dropped him into the lower half of the first round. He proved to be one of the better offensive prospects in baseball in his first full season, leading the low Class A Midwest League in on-base percentage while finishing fourth in slugging. While Dan Haren and even Kiko Calero will pay more immediate dividends, many consider Barton to be the real prize Oakland received in the Mark Mulder trade with St. Louis. General manager Billy Beane called him the best pure hitter in the minors after dealing for him. Barton has a fast bat, uses all fields and already shows plus game power. He has an advanced understanding of the strike zone, and his offensive approach fits in perfectly with the A's philosophies. While few doubt Barton's ability to reach the majors on his bat alone, his defensive future is a question mark. Behind the plate he has a below-average arm and receiving skills. He threw out 25 percent of basestealers last year. His lack of athleticism and quickness were going to make catching a stretch, and Oakland has decided it's more important to develop his bat. He'll move to first base at Oakland's new high Class A Stockton affiliate this year.
While Barton was one of three catchers picked by the Cardinals in the first eight rounds of the 2003 draft, it was his bat that intrigued them. He played third base as a high school senior because his coach's son did most of the catching, but spent most of his time behind the plate at Rookie-level Johnson City. Barton had one of the best lefthanded bats in the 2003 high school class. He's short to the ball and has a balanced swing. He already can hit for average and shows a good idea of the strike zone. He can pound the ball and will have power as he matures. The Cardinals said they were encouraged with Barton's defense, but he'll have to work to stay behind the plate, especially with Molina and eighth-rounder Matt Pagnozzi in the system. Barton has the potential to be a good receiver, but his arm is just average. He threw out 29 percent of Appalachian League basestealers. Barton is a baseball rat with the potential to be the impact bat the Cardinals system needs. He could blossom into a No. 3 hitter and would have tremendous value if he can catch. He'll stay behind the plate in low Class A in 2004.
Minor League Top Prospects
For one 24-game stretch, Barton was perhaps the best hitter in the league. He collected a hit in 24 consecutive games in June, batting .490 with 14 doubles, two homers, eight walks and five strikeouts in 100 at-bats. He also was the most dangerous hitter in the playoffs, batting .550 with four homers as Sacramento won the PCL title. Outside of those hot streaks, though, Barton hit a very ordinary .245/.357/.373 during the regular season. Barton is very selective at the plate and his line-drive stroke could one day produce 30-plus doubles a year with a solid batting average. He looks to go the other way early in counts and doesn't have a lot of loft in his swing. He seems to get consistent backspin on the ball only to the opposite field, limiting his home run potential, which is average at best. He never has made conditioning a priority, and Barton is a below-average runner and no better than an average defender at first base. His bat will have to carry him, and it may not be enough to make him a regular on a big league contender.
One of the top young hitters in the minors, Barton joined the Athletics in the offseason trade that sent Mark Mulder to the Cardinals. Like Butler, Barton dominated high Class A as a teenager and had no problem making the jump to Double-A. Barton's offensive maturity is well beyond his years, and he projects as a .300 hitter capable of drawing 100 walks per season. His power ceiling is the subject of much debate, however. He' plenty strong, but his swing is more contact-oriented and he seems much more comfortable ripping liners to the opposite field than turning on pitches. Barton was drafted as a catcher and played there in 2004, but the A's moved him to first base this season. He's adequate there, though he's also short (listed at 6 feet) for the position. While he could be valuable at first base, he could put up superstar offensive numbers if he could play catcher, so the A's may give him another look there next year.
Traded to the Athletics in the Mark Mulder deal last winter, Barton made it to Double-A before his 20th birthday. While he didn't adjust to the TL as smoothly as Kendrick did, Barton continued to show an advanced, patient approach at the plate. He stays inside the ball and already uses the whole field well with a smooth, natural stroke, so he'll hit for average at any level. The questions about him concern how much power he'll develop and where he'll play in the field. Some managers think he'll get stronger and add to his current line-drive power, while others think he'll hit just 15-20 homers a year, less than ideal for a first baseman. He has worked out in the outfield and may get more time there, but he's a below-average runner and has no obvious defensive home. "I heard a lot about him, but I don't see the tools of a first baseman," one scout said. "I saw Dan Johnson in winter ball last year and loved him. I don't see the same things in Barton."
Though he was 18 for most of the season, Barton had the best plate discipline in the MWL. He walked 69 times and fanned just 44, leading the league in on-base percentage (.445). Far from passive, he excelled at getting ahead in the count and then taking advantage of pitchers. Barton showed no weakness at the plate. He has a short stroke, uses the whole field and shows 25-30 homer potential. He has no trouble with offspeed stuff and hits lefties and righthanders equally well. A National League scout said Barton and Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart were the two purest hitters he saw all season. "I love his approach," an American League scout said. "It's what you try to teach kids." Barton's defense is problematic. Few observers think he has a chance to catch regularly in the big leagues because his arm is below average and his receiving and blocking skills are just passable. He's not athletic or quick enough to play third base, and at 6 feet he'd be short for a first baseman.
After spending most of his senior season of high school as a third baseman while the coach's son did most of the catching, Barton returned behind the plate after the Cardinals made him a first-round pick. He struggled with throws to second base and looked exhausted by the end of the summer, yet displayed the fluid reactions, soft hands and strong arm to be a major league receiver. While his defense shows promise, Barton's bat already looks like a sure thing. The lefty swinger has the ability to hit for both power and average and has a keen eye at the plate. "His knowledge of the strike zone is as good as you'll see from a kid who just turned 18," Johnson City manager Ron Warner said. "He's aggressive at the plate and he doesn't swing at balls. He's a quick learner and he's going to be fine at catcher."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Oakland Athletics in 2008
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Oakland Athletics in 2008
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Pacific Coast League in 2007
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Oakland Athletics in 2007
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Oakland Athletics in 2007
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Oakland Athletics in 2006
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Oakland Athletics in 2006
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the California League in 2005