"He was lights out in spring training," manager Carlos Febles explains. "I think he had five perfect innings down in spring training. He was impressive, he has a good fastball, a good curveball, a good change-up, like I said he was lights out."
No stranger to big games, Barnes has pitched in the College World Series, for Team USA and earned himself numerous awards including Big East pitcher of the year. In his first professional debut recently Barnes showed Greenville all of his experience and how truly impressive he is.
"He was very good [in his debut]. For a first time out and in a pro game it was better than expected," notes pitching coach Dick Such. "I thought there might be some nerves and jitters but there wasn't.
"He came out there and attacked the zone and had a fine outing. He was pretty much right on and was outstanding there was nothing he could have done any different. He did a nice job."
"How do you think he did?" Febles joked when being asked about Barnes debut. "He was unbelievable. He came in throwing strikes and commanding his pitches. He was not nervous. He had complete control of the situation and that was exactly what I was expecting of him and he did it."
Barnes tallied nine strikeouts in five scoreless innings, due in large part to his incredible fastball, but despite all of his praise he remained calm and objective.
"I had a lot of fun," Barnes said of his debut. "I thought it went really well, I thought I pitched pretty good. I wasn't really nervous, it's the game of baseball. I've been doing it for a long time. I was more excited than anything to get it under my belt.
"I wish I controlled the fourth inning a little better. Nothing really transpired from it but I tried to do a little bit too much later in the fourth inning. Fortunately I was able to get out of it without any runs scoring, but I need to try to work on controlling that better."
Barnes spent his offseason adhering to a relatively strict day-by-day program as well as time to himself, and spent time in spring training working on his consistency, mechanics, and pitching as well as getting used to the five-day routine.
"I took a couple vacations and mainly hung at home and followed the program they gave me. [It was] five days a week I took the weekends to myself. It wasn't that bad only a few hours a day of work you have to do."
"He's getting healthy and getting his mechanics down. He just needs to stay healthy and keep throwing the strikes and keep taking his regular turn," Such said of his expectations of Barnes for the season.
"If he stays healthy I think he's going to have a great season," Febles agreed. "He has great stuff. If he throws strikes I think he's going to be fine. He's got the stuff to be a good one."
Barnes is already establishing himself to be an ace who should undoubtedly be moving up through the system sooner rather than later.
As for what Barnes is hoping for out of his first pro season, "Be as consistent as possible, that's what I'm trying to do for right now. Go out there and give the team a quality start every time out. [The season's] long but it's baseball so it's fun."
GREENVILLE, SC- As a first round draft pick in 2011, right-handed pitcher Matt Barnes is already proving himself to be an ace in his first professional season..and that's just after one start. Pending he stay healthy and focused, Barnes will find himself pitching in the majors in no time.
Barnes Better Than Expected
Matt Barnes made his heavily anticipated debut this week and was better than expected.
Greenville Beat Writer
Barnes had 9 K's in 5 IP in his debut
Apr 12, 2012