- Full name Darwin James Kunane Barney
- Born 11/08/1985 in Portland, OR
- Profile Ht.: 5'10" / Wt.: 180 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Oregon State
- Debut 08/12/2010
Drafted in the 4th round (127th overall) by the Chicago Cubs in 2007 (signed for $222,750).
View Draft ReportBarney hasn't quite been himself this spring, falling out of consensus top 200 consideration due to defensive lapses and a tendency to swing for the fences at the plate. He profiles as a future utility player as he lacks the power or offensive consistency to be an everyday middle infielder. His savvy has overcome his modest physical tools in the past; his best tool is his speed, as he's a 6.7-second runner.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Winning follows Barney. He led Oregon State to consecutive World Series championships in 2006-07, captured the Florida State League title with Daytona in his first full pro season in 2008, helped Tennessee to the Southern League finals in 2009 and was a major reason why Iowa had the best regular-season record in the Pacific Coast League last year. Along the way, Barney consistently has improved all facets of his game, which earned him his first big league callup last August. He isn't flashy but he's the best defensive infielder in the organization, including the majors. He has excellent instincts, solid range, soft hands and an average arm that he enhances with a quick release and uncanny accuracy. He led PCL shortstops with a .970 fielding percentage in 2010. Barney has grown as a hitter, shortening his stroke and learning to use the entire field. Scouts thought his bat was a little quicker last year than it had been in the past. He won't have much power, but he knows that and focuses on making contact. He has average speed but runs the bases well and can steal on occasion. Barney's hustle and reliability endear him to managers and likely will win him a utility role with the Cubs in 2011. He's good enough to be an everyday shortstop but is blocked by Starlin Castro in Chicago. Don't bet against him finding a way to beat out Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker for the Cubs' second-base job.
It's no coincidence that Oregon State won College World Series championships in Barney's last two seasons there, or that Daytona won the Florida State League title in his first full pro season. He's not flashy but has a knack for doing what it takes to win in all phases of the game. Scouts both within and outside the organization think more highly of his tools than they did when he signed. He always handled the bat well, but he took a step forward when Daytona hitting coach Richie Zisk switched him to a 35-ounce bat in mid-2008. Barney's approach noticeably improved, as he stopped trying to pull everything and hit more hard liners and grounders than easy flyouts. He doesn't have any power and will have to bat toward the bottom of the order unless he starts taking more walks, but he makes consistent contact and isn't afraid to hit with two strikes or in clutch situations. His instincts allow his average speed to play up on the bases. Barney's range and arm are just a tick above-average, but he grades as a plus defender because he reads balls well and has soft hands and a quick release. Barney is nearly ready after spending the second half of 2009 in Triple-A, but it's uncertain how much of an opportunity he'll get in Chicago with incumbent Ryan Theriot, a similar player with more speed, ahead of him and Starlin Castro closing fast on both of them.
Winning follows Barney, who was a catalyst for back-to-back College World Series titles at Oregon State in 2006-07 and a key part of a Florida State League championship in his first full pro season. His constant energy and his knack for making things happen are more impressive than any of his individual tools. Though his arm and range are just average, he's the best defensive infielder in the system, thanks to his instincts, ability to read balls off the bat, fast hands and quick release. When they signed him, the Cubs thought Barney undercut too many pitches at the plate. They solved that problem when Daytona hitting coach Richie Zisk handed him a 35- ounce bat last June. The change didn't transform him into Derek Jeter, but Barney did start hitting more liners and hard grounders and using the opposite field more. He batted .287 over the final two months, .407 in the FSL playoffs and .302 in the Arizona Fall League. He still offers only modest power, and while he handles the bat well, he's going to bat in the bottom of a big league order unless he starts drawing more walks. Barney is somewhat reminiscent of Ryan Theriot, another former CWS champion made good, but he doesn't have Theriot's speed. Barney will advance to Double-A this season.
Barney doesn't have a single tool that grades out as plus, but his instincts and intelligence make him a winner. An integral part of Oregon State's back-to-back College World Series championships, he signed for $227,500 as a fourth-round pick. His best physical attribute is his slightly above-average speed, though he's more of a savvy baserunner than a significant basestealing threat. Offensively, he's a contact hitter with modest power, and he could fit into the No. 2 slot in a batting order if he draws more walks. He got underneath a lot of pitches when using wood bats with Team USA in 2006, but the Cubs worked with him at instructional league to get his top hand over the ball. He made harder contact and stopped hitting as many balls in the air, and they're curious to see how much the adjustment will pay off in the future. Barney's arm and range are nothing special at shortstop, but he reads balls well and unloads his throws in a hurry, enabling him to get the job done. Chicago plans on bringing up Barney and 2007 third-rounder Tony Thomas together as a double-play combination through the minors, and they'll head to high Class A this year.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Chicago Cubs in 2011
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Chicago Cubs in 2009