In his first outing with the Salem Red Sox, Matt Barnes shined for six strong innings while giving up only one run on four hits and added twelve strikeouts. Barnes received only two decisions of his five starts with Greenville (both were wins) and compiled 26 and 2/3 innings pitched with a .32 ERA and 42 strikeouts. He allowed twelve hits and surrendered just one run with his former team.
"I felt good about it," Barnes said about his high-A debut. "I threw my fastball well and threw a lot of strikes. I just went out there and competed the way I always do."
"I saw a very under control and confident kid out there," Sox pitching coach Kevin Walker said. "The way he competed and the angle on his fastball are the things that stood out to me."
Walker went on to praise the poise and mechanics that Barnes showed in his first outing.
Billy McMillon, manager of the Salem Red Sox, was impressed with what he saw from Barnes in his first start.
"He threw the ball hard and mixed in his other pitches well," McMillon said. "He pitched like he had an idea of what he was doing."
Judging by Barnes' consistent performance and gaudy numbers, McMillon's last statement is justified. That isn't to say there's no work to be done by the former UConn standout, though.
"I'm just working on continuing to develop my pitches so that I feel comfortable going to any one of them in any situation," Barnes said. "Also, just by playing the game and getting more experience is important for me."
"One thing he's working on is his changeup," Walker said. "He features a good curveball and changeup, and there are obviously some things throughout the year we'll work on to get him better. It's important for him to throw his curve for strikes and to be able to expand the zone when he's ahead in counts."
While it may not seem like it because of his talent and maturity, this is Barnes first professional season. The transition from college to professional sports usually comes with big adjustments, but not for Barnes.
"I haven't really had to make any major changes since college," Barnes said. "Every minor league player's goal is to make it to the major leagues, so I'm just doing what I know how to do to hopefully make that happen."
While Barnes has only made two starts for the Salem squad, he and his coaches are certainly excited about the opportunity he has here.
"Factoring in what he did in Greenville and his first start here, you've got to be pumped about seeing him and his progression towards his ultimate goal," McMillon said.
Last year's first round pick Matt Barnes dominated the low-A level in what is his debut season, so much so that he received a quick call-up to high-A Salem. It has been business as usual for the right-hander through his first two starts with Salem.
No Big Adjustment For Barnes
Matt Barnes continues to dominate batters at the A-ball level, even after his promotion.
Salem Beat Writer
Barnes has 20 K's in 12 high-A innings so far
May 16, 2012