Colin Barber Is Locked In At The Plate
Kyle Tucker cemented himself as an everyday player in 2020, but the Astros have no other established outfielders on the 40-man roster.
Astros general manager James Click will almost certainly supplement the big league roster with outside additions, but his vision for a sustainable organization includes bolstering the internal depth. Colin Barber is ascending fast to be among the group.
“He’s the guy who has a little Bregman in him in terms of his focus,” Astros assistant GM Pete Putila said. “You see it in the gym, you see it in the cage . . . getting to the big leagues, there’s no other option for him. He’s really locked in.”
Barber was among the handful of prospects at instructional league in West Palm Beach, Fla. Houston added Barber to its 60-man player pool at the end of the regular season, but purely for developmental purposes, after he spent 20 games in the independent City of Champions Cup during the summer.
The organization has been impressed by subtle changes in Barber’s lefthanded swing. He’s always possessed a high exit velocity and power, but the club is working with the 19-year-old outfielder to dig his heel into the ground before starting his hands. Barber is able to cover more of the strike zone and is reducing the frequency of weak ground balls to the right side.
“His power, especially relative to his age, is impressive,” Putila said. “He’s got the ability to loft the ball. I think that’s one of the biggest improvements we’ve seen less of a rollover finish, and he’s able to finish with his top hand up.”
The Astros drafted Barber in the fourth round in 2019 and paid him nearly $600,000 over slot value. He hit .263/.387/.394 with two homers in 28 games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2019. The Astros project him as a center fielder with an above-average arm and plus speed.
"He’s a bit more advanced and really locked-in kind of person, just really laser focused in his development,” Putila said.
— The Astros' 2018 second-round pick Jayson Schroeder was up to 95 mph and making drastic improvements during instructional league. Schroeder has walked 46 in 43 professional innings and carries a 7.33 ERA. The 20-year-old righthander spent the bulk of his time in 2019 at short-season Tri-City.