Reports out of Houston today indicate that Brandon Barnes will be the 13th Greeneville Astro alumni to make his Major League debut. Barnes was drafted in the sixth round of the 2005 draft. He is the third signed player from that draft to make it to the bigs. The other two are Brian Bogusevic and Tommy Manzella.
Barnes spent 2005 and 2006 in Greeneville and was a raw ball player. He had been primarily a football player in high school with dreams of playing in the NFL. However that changed and after one year at Cypress College as a walk on, he was drafted. He improved during his two years in Greeneville but then really started growing as he moved up the ladder. His progress was slow and steady. In 2009 and 2010 both saw him appear in three levels of the system. He did enough in the 2011 year to have the Astros re-sign him to a minor league free agent deal with an invite to spring training as a non roster invitee. He appeared in 14 spring training games and hit .267 in 15 at bats. He has played well at Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City this season.
It is always exciting when a former Greeneville Astro gets the call up to the major leagues but it is even more exciting when you have a personally connection with the player. So excuse me as I share a personal story.
Our family was fortunate enough to get to know Brandon during the 2005 and 2006 seasons. He was very generous with his time and was great to my kids. There is no way to make me a big fan than to treat my kids well.
Here is my favorite Brandon Barnes story:
We were sitting around the table during lunch and my son, who 6 at the time was talking baseball with Brandon and Ralphie Henriquez. The topic turned to Vlad Guerrero. My son stated, "What I don't understand is he is there best player and they have him playing right field. That is where you put your worst player." Ralphie dies laughing because if you check Brandon's stats from his time in Greeneville, you will find he played 30 games in RF in 2006 for the G-Stros. Brandon educated my son on why you need your best arm in right field and why that is an important position. Ralphie just agreed with my son that the worst player plays in RF. The irony is my son has spent a fair amount of time in RF as he has gotten older as well due to his arm.
I have enjoyed following Brandon's career not just because of his growth as a baseball player but his growth as a man, a husband and father. I have also enjoyed watching the growth of his faith as well.
Good luck Brandon. We are still pulling for you!
More Than Stats:
There is something else in this promotion story for those of us who follow minor league baseball. Don't get too caught up in short season stats. Brandon hit .200 his first year and .220 his second year. He was a work in progress. He is a reminder to show some patience with these young men who are developing. Those who make personnel decisions in pro ball look at more than a stat line. They call it player development for a reason.