Barton To Tampa?
According to Chris Kline with Baseball America, it is looking more and more likely that Tampa Bay selects Barton with the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft this Thursday.
I spoke with someone with ties to the Indians organization today, and he was suprised that Barton would be considered for a Rule 5 pick as he thinks he is not ready for the majors (still needs work on plate discipline and other issues at the plate). He did mention that we have so much depth in the system in the outfield, there is bound to be someone of quality left unprotected.
Also, in regard to the knee injury, it was not serious as he played through it most of last year, so he was just getting it fixed this offseason. It nagged him all year, but did not stop him from playing, and wanted to get it cleared up.
In not much of a surprise, it is starting to look like the Indians will lose Brian Barton and potentially a couple more players in the Rule 5 Draft this coming Thursday. It will be interesting to see just who the Indians lose, and ultimately if any of those players stick with their new team, but either way the Indians were in a numbers crunch with the roster and could not protect everyone. I'll wait until after the draft before I second guess who was and was not protected.
Baseball America did a writeup previewing the Rule 5 Draft, and Barton was the only Indians player featured. Here is what was written:
Brian Barton, of, Indians: Ever the enigma, Barton went undrafted in 2004 after clubs were scared off by his aerospace engineering major at Miami. The Indians signed him for $100,000 and an additional $100,000 in college funds after a brief showing in the Cape Cod League and Barton has not looked back. A five-tool player who can play all three outfield spots, Barton has been hampered by a lingering knee injury since his breakout year in 2006 when he hit .322 with 19 homers and swiped 41 bags in 49 attempts. Even with the knee problem, Barton still turned in a .305/.402/.420 season in 2007, finishing the year in Triple-A. Quiet and leading through example through his 2006 season, some scouts expressed concerns about Barton's demeanor. "I loved him that first year in Double-A," one scout from a National League club said. "But this past year, it was almost like he'd earned this elite status and you saw him have this lackadaisical approach to the game that wasn't there before. Where he was playing with chips on both shoulders with something to prove initially, that part of his game was replaced by some sort of false bravado. He's really tough to get a handle on, but the tools are very real."
Also, according to MLBtraderumors.com, Barton may in fact be the first pick in the draft citing a reliable source that informed them that "the Rays are eyeing 25 year-old outfielder Brian Barton from the Indians for the first pick." And, Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein has weighed in saying "[Barton] has always been old for his level and many scouts see him as a mistake hitter and minor league performer as opposed to a player with long-term major league value."
More on the Rule 5 Draft as things develop.
Photo courtesy of Carl Kline