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Sports

July 4, 2013

Growing Pains

Barnes' stats are ordinary but his potential is extraordinary

Red Sox prospect Matt Barnes’ statistics aren’t eye-popping like they were last year.

Actually, they aren’t too good at all. He has a 5.19 ERA and a .282 batting average against in 15 starts for Double-A Portland.

Is it time to get nervous about the 2011 first-round pick who entered this season ranked by Baseball America as the 40th best prospect in all of professional baseball?

No, it’s not yet time to sweat his performance.

Sometimes good pitchers have poor years in the minors. It’s as simple as that.

We saw it last year with 2010 first-round pick Anthony Ranaudo, who had a 6.69 ERA in nine starts before being sent to the Red Sox minor league complex with a tired arm. Ranaudo has bounced back this year with an 8-2 record with a 2.68 ERA for Portland and was picked to pitch in the All-Star Futures Game.

Barnes who turned 23 on June 17, is someone many consider an ace or top-of-the rotation starter. He has the potential to bounce back in the final two months this season.

“I’ve felt good for the last month and a half,” Barnes said. “It’s just a matter of making pitches when you have to, consistency with all the pitches and maybe a little bit of luck.”

Last year, in his first professional season, he had a 2.86 ERA in 25 starts between Single-A Greenville and Single-A Salem. He led Sox minor leaguers in strikeouts (133), was third in ERA and WHIP (1.05) and fifth in batting average against (.225).

This year has been a different story. His WHIP (walks and hits per inning) is 1.51 compared 1.05 last year. His walks are up to 3.3 per nine innings compared to 2.2 last year.

On the bright side, he has struck out 11.0 batters per nine innings, an increase from 10.0 last year.

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