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2015 Red Sox top prospect voting #9: Matt Barnes in a landslide

Things haven't gone perfectly for Matt Barnes these past couple of years. But with a strong finish to the season, he's earned the eighth spot on our list in a landslide vote.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

It feels like a long time since we spoke of The Three Bs. Since Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Matt Barnes were kings of the system (usually in that order) were considered kings of the farm system. Now Bogaerts is coming off an unfortunate rookie year (though hopes are still high), there are serious doubts that Jackie Bradley Jr.'s bat will ever pan out, and Matt Barnes has fallen behind after some less-than-impressive seasons in the upper minors.

For Barnes, 2014 doesn't exactly look amazing, but it's arguably a step in the right direction. It was a year marked by inconsistency and early struggles likely due in part to a shoulder injury. By the time the end of the year rolled around, however, Barnes had more that gotten his issues under control. He corralled a high walk total, finishing the year with a BB/9 noticeably reduced from its 2013 heights in Portland. And if that came at the cost of strikeouts, his K/9 spiked towards the end of the year as well.

The best news for Barnes, however, came in September, when he was given a brief stint with the Red Sox proper. If we had been shown the Barnes from May or July, fans might be rather less excited about the former first-round pick. Instead, we got Barnes at near enough to his best, and while a 4.00 ERA in nine innings of work isn't exactly exciting, anyone who watched the man pitch saw an arm with good power behind it, a couple viable secondary pitches, and the ability to miss bats.

Of course, this was Matt Barnes out of the bullpen, not the rotation, so we have to take those innings with a grain of salt. That might not be the Matt Barnes we're hoping for, and it might not be the Matt Barnes we get. He will very likely begin the year in Pawtucket's rotation as one of the many depth options for Boston's starting five, and while he may eventually find his way into the role of full-time reliever, at least for now there's no reason to pull the trigger on that just yet.

Whether it's in the bullpen or the rotation, however, the expectation is once again that Matt Barnes will be a long-term major leaguer in some way, shape, or form. That may not sound terribly impressive, but before August, with his 2014 season spiraling out of control right after a disappointing 2013 campaign, Barnes was in danger of becoming an afterthought in the farm system. That old Barnes--once the top pitching prospect in the system--needed to show his face again. He wasn't back for long, granted, but those two months count for an awful lot coming as they do at the tail end of two mostly concerning years.

  1. Blake Swihart, C
  2. Henry Owens, LHP
  3. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
  4. Rafael Devers, 3B
  5. Manuel Margot, OF
  6. Brian Johnson, LHP
  7. Garin Cecchini, 3B
  8. Matt Barnes, RHP