On Saturday morning Matt Barnes left behind his Salem Red Sox teammates and boarded a plane.
No, he was not promoted for the second time this season. Instead he is making a weekend sojourn to Kansas City to play in the 2012 Futures Game on Sunday as part of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game festivities.
“It’s a great honor,” said Barnes as he prepped for his trip. “Being compared with these other great prospects is exciting.”
Just one year after being selected with the 19th overall pick in MLB draft, Barnes has cemented himself as one of, if not the top prospect in the Boston Red Sox system.
After five starts with Low-A Greenville, in which he allowed only one run and struck out 42 batters in 26 2/3 innings, Barnes was promoted to High-A Salem at the end of April where he kept that momentum going.
Overall this season he is 7-2 with a 2.44 ERA and has an organizational-high 101 strikeouts. He has only walked 17 batters in 81 innings and despite some recent struggles, the 22-year-old has been learning lessons every step of the way.
“The first half of the season I couldn’t have asked for more,” said Barnes who has allowed 14 earned runs over his last three starts. “What happens, happens and you can’t dwell on it. I have to come out every five days and build on the weaknesses as well as the strengths. These things make you stronger both mentally and physically.”
Joining Barnes on his journey will be fellow Salem Sox teammate, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who will play for the World Team.
Bogaerts, who is batting .288 with 12 home runs, 48 RBIs and 39 runs, is another Red Sox prospect whose star is on the rise.
“It’s great that he will be there as well,” said Barnes of Bogaerts. “He is a great player and fun to watch, but if I get the chance to face him I can’t take it easy on him. I will attack and challenge him like any other batter.”
Barnes has not yet been informed as to when he might come into the game or for how long he will pitch, but he will be part of a stacked staff of futures aces on the United States squad, all of which were first round or supplimental first round selections.
Joining Barnes is Dylan Bundy (No. 4 overall selection, 2011 draft, Orioles), Gerrit Cole (No. 1, 2011, Pirates), Danny Hultzen (No. 2, 2011, Mariners), Alex Meyer (No. 23, 2011, Nationals), Jake Odorizzi (No. 32, 2008, Royals), Tyler Skaggs (No. 40, 2009, Diamondbacks), Jameson Taillon (No. 2, 2010, Pirates), Taijuan Walker (No. 43, 2010, Mariners) and Zach Wheeler (No. 6, 2009, Mets).
“I assume they’ll give us a rundown on Sunday before the game,” said Barnes on when he might appear in the game. “I have looked at the roster and I know many of these guys or have played with or against them. It will be exciting to see and talk to them.”
Barnes will also get the chance to catch up with his parents and brother who are making the trip out to watch him play.
Ultimately, the competitor inside will take over and his usual focus will take over once his cleats hit the mound at Kauffman Stadium.
“I’m just going to do what I’ve done all year,” said Barnes. “I plan to mix my pitches, come after the hitters and go out there and enjoy the experience.”
You can watch Barnes and Bogaerts in action at the All-Star Futures Game on ESPN2 starting at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Past Red Sox prospects in Futures Game
Tomo Ohka (1999 & 2000)
Sun Woo Kim (2000)
Seung Song (2001)
Luis Garcia (2001)
Jorge de la Rosa (2002 & 2003)
Kevin Youkilis (2003)
Juan Perez (2004)
Hanley Ramirez (2005)
Anibal Sanchez (2005)
Edgar Martinez (2006)
Jacoby Ellsbury (2007)
Clay Buchholz (2007)
Che-Hsuan Lin (2008 MVP)
Casey Kelly (2009)
Junichi Tazawa (2009)
Stolmy Pimentel (2010)
Will Middlebrooks (2011)
Chih-Hsien Chiang (2011)
You can contact Craig Forde via email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @BeyondFenway
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