Barnhart's Bat is Heating Up

Barnhart's Bat is Heating Up

After the promotion of Devin Mesoraco and the departure of Yasmani Grandal, Tucker Barnhart is now the top rated catching prospect remaining in the Reds' developmental system. He's a line drive hitter with a mature plate discipline. That, along with his skills behind the plate project him to be a big leaguer similar to current Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan.

Bakersfield scored all of their runs in the final two innings to win 6-3 at Stockton last night. That along with San Jose's loss extended the Blaze lead in the California League North Division to four and a half games. They tied the game at two in the eighth inning which was started by a double by Travis Mattair. The next batter struck out and Mattair scored on a throw to first base for the putout. Tucker Barnhart then stepped up and hit an inside-the-park home run to tie the game. The ninth inning started with a walk to Billy Hamilton and a bunt hit by Theo Bowe. Stockton then loaded the bases with an intentional walk to Dominic D'Anna. They were emptied by a ground ball up the middle from Mattair and a wild pitch. The final run crossed when Mattair scored on a double by Jaren Matthews.

Chad Rogers got the start and allowed two runs on six hits over five innings while striking out five. Pat Doyle threw three innings of scoreless relief and picked up his sixth win. Offensively Barnhart and Bowe both had three hits for the Blaze. Devin Lohman and Mattair added two hits each. Mattair had two RBI and scored twice.

The promotion to Devin Mesoraco and trade of Yasmani Grandal left Barnhart the top rated catching prospect in the Cincinnati system. His bat has been hot recently going 13-36 over the last ten games to raise his average to .258. The switch hitter came into the organization from a selection in the tenth round of the 2009 draft out of Brownsburg (IN) High School. Before the draft he was rated higher, but there were signability concerns after he'd committed to play collegiately at Georgia Tech. The Reds ultimately changed his career path by offering a fourth round signing bonus.

Barnhart began his professional career playing 14 games in the Gulf Coast Rookie League. He came back the next season and hit .316 in 35 games while throwing out 51% of his base-stealers at Billings. That performance earned him honorable mention on the Pioneer League All Star team. Last year he had a solid season at Dayton hitting .273 and gunning down runners at 47%. Now his average is on the rise at high-A Bakersfield where he's thrown out 39%.

At first glance Barnhart appears like a Ryan Hanigan type catcher. He has a quick release effective for throwing out runners. His stature (5'10"/185#) is small compared to traditional catchers and he does not project much power at the plate. A weakness in his game is hitting only .135 in 52 AB this season against southpaws while batting .323 against right-handers. However he did hit .278 against lefties at Billings and will be working to regain that success at higher levels.

Barnhart developed a reputation as a high school junior when he hit .500 with eleven home runs. Those numbers declined his senior season because opponents limited the number of pitches he could hit. He took that situation and developed a plate discipline that is mature beyond his years. After 191 minor league games his on-base percentage is almost 100' higher than his average. Also, his walk totals have been more than 2/3 of his strikeouts each season. Now 21 years old, the ceiling on his potential may not be as high as other prospects, but his floor isn't as low either. Barnhart appears to be a good bet to see major league action someday, at least as a backup catcher.

Other News from the Farm:

Louisville opened a series at Wilkes-Barre with a couple of wins before losing 3-1 last night. Joey Gathright, Dioner Navarro, and Felix Perez each had two hits for the Bats. Pedro Villarreal took the hill and had a strong outing by allowing only two runs (one earned) on six hits in seven innings while taking the loss. He now has a 3.14 ERA over seven starts since his promotion to AAA.

Roster News:

The Bats picked up 27 year-old Ryan Feierabend out of an independent league to replace departed Jeff Francis. He has pitched in 25 MLB games for the Mariners. Feierabend got his first start Friday and failed to make it out of the fifth inning. Also, Donnie Joseph saw his first AAA action Sunday. The southpaw has been a dominant closer in the Southern League this season and pitched two scoreless innings in his debut with the Bats.

Rain suspended the Pensacola game at Birmingham with the Wahoos leading 2-1 in the fourth inning. It is expected that the game will not be made up.

Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:

Hamilton reached base only once when he led off the deciding ninth inning of last night's game. He stole second before scoring the first run of the inning. He now has 72 steals in 61 games.

Dayton went ahead with five in the third and held on for a 9-5 win over visiting Bowling Green. Sean Buckley had three hits for the Dragons and Juan Perez, Steve Selsky, and Kyle Waldrop had two each including Waldrop's third home run of the season. Tanner Robles got the start and was charged with three runs in 4+ innings. Bill Bray made his first rehab start and allowed no runs as he finished the sixth and got the win.

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