Padres’ Josh Barfield – 2006
Barfield has seen his prospect stock drop off dramatically – at least according to this year’s lists – falling from a rank somewhere around 15-20 in 2004 depending on the publisher, to completely off most of them.
So what’s happened since his high Single-A days of 2003? He had a horrible beginning to his Double-A career in 2004, and didn’t wind up with great numbers, but still managed to claw out a Southern League-high 90 RBI as a 21-year-old. And last season, his first look at Triple-A in Portland, he again started slow but hit .343 with 11 home runs and 50 RBI in the final three months, to finish at .310/.370/.450 with 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases for the season, while his strikeout-to-walk ratio actually improved to 108/52 through 137 games. And to make things more compelling his defense has also improved in the last two years due to hard work, and he probably won’t be changing positions for at least a couple of years, if ever. I checked through all of the analysis from those who dropped him and I couldn’t find any negativity, save for one who discounted the Triple-A numbers by mentioning the PCL was a hitter’s paradise. There is truth to that statement, but for a 22-year-old looking at a better class of pitcher for the first time, I don’t find it valid. And I would also surmise that line was written by a man who doesn’t live in the Pacific Northwest at sea level, hasn’t factored the night games played in Portland, and hasn’t taken the time for dusk golf in the region, those summer-cool dreary evenings when you’re clubbing up twice to reach the greens.
The question of why was recently asked outright in a Baseball America chat room but was deftly left unanswered by the writer, and in another a different writer mentioned him as a potential All-Star at the position. So I’m at a loss given his status is so close many of the fantasy sites are conservatively projecting him for a full-time job this season. And he’s obliterating spring training pitching in the early going, making a mockery of the job competition against Mark Bellhorn.
I mentioned I won’t be publishing my list this year, but will say that by following my methodology on second base prospects — posted in the prior Blog – I have him higher on my list than anyone else. The explanation for his list demise might also be found in the previous Blogs on prospect lists, as perhaps he’s no longer interesting anymore with the potential for a major league job so close.