It looks like Jackie Bradley Jr. is not the only Boston Red Sox first round pick from 2011 who will pay off.
On Monday, in an unsurprising move, the Red Sox called up pitcher Matt Barnes from AAA Pawtucket. Barnes, 24, posted a 3.95 ERA in 23 outings for the Paw Sox this year, 22 of which were starts.
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Adding Barnes to the 40-man roster protects him from being selected in the Rule V Draft this upcoming December.
The corresponding roster move transferred Hawaiian outfielder Shane Victorino to the 60-day DL.
On Tuesday, Barnes made his MLB debut, and it was one to remember. Tossing just his second career pro outing in relief, Barnes looked like a natural. Giving Boston three great innings— allowing three hits while punching out a pair of batters.
The most pleasant surprise of the outing was the cheddar so-to-speak. Known as a flamethrower who often hit 98 mph in his college career, Barnes has toned it down a notch as of late. In his most recent AAA outings, his fastball sat comfortable around 90-91 mph. On Tuesday however, Barnes consistently hit 95-96 mph on the radar gun and sat comfortably at 93 mph according to the PitchFx tool on Fangraphs. With this in mind, expect Barnes to bring on more velocity in his relief outings than he would as a starter.
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Despite putting up modest numbers for the Paw Sox, Barnes is a much better pitcher than his numbers indicate. At first, it appeared as though Barnes had met his match in AAA, but that could not be any further from the truth. Since the all-star break, in nine starts, his ERA in Pawtucket stands at 2.10. He has struck out 7.8 per nine innings and walking just 2.3 men.
Although Barnes is a starter by trade, he will be used out of the bullpen for the rest of this season. Boston is already using a six-man rotation as it is right now, so there would be no chance they bump it up to seven. Luckily for Barnes, with a solid performance here, he may have a good chance to break the roster as a reliever come 2015.
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In his pro career, Barnes has only made one other relief appearance. When he pitched in relief, Barnes hurled three scoreless frames on three hits while striking out two — almost identical to his outing in the big leagues. Now though, it is clear his first relief appearance was not be his last.
He last pitched on September 4th and gave the Paw Sox an impressive outing. Going seven strong, Barnes allowed no runs on three hits while punching-out six. He was scheduled to make another start in the playoffs, but obviously he will not be making that start now.
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Barnes will wear No. 68 for the Red Sox and is available to go whenever he is needed.