High School: Marina High, located in Huntington Beach, CA
Drafted: 2003, 1st round, 28th overall
Barton is clearly the top prospect in the A's system so I assume this post isn't a surprise. Word was that Beane insisted that Barton be in the Mulder-to-StL deal and now we know why. Barton got off to a little bit of a slow start last season coming back from having his appendix removed, posted an OPS under .800 about a month into the season, but he was a monster after that. Right now he does everything you can ask of a player that just recently turned 20. No, the power isn't there yet, but just about everything else is. Barton has paitence and strike zone knowledge that is unheard of for a rookie. He is a potential power hitter but he doesn't strike out too much. He's posted an OPS over .900 at 3 straight levels despite being young for every league. The problem with Barton is that he may not have a true position yet. It is my feeling that he should be given every oppurtunity to catch and Billy Beane hasn't closed the door on that. What the A's will probably decide to do though is keep him at 1B and/or DH to assure them that he plays 160 games per season to truly maximize the strength of his bat. If Barton fails to add power then he'll be a similar hitter to Keith Hernandez, or John Olerud, and there is nothing wrong with that, those were two very gifted hitters. If he can in fact add power though, then you can compare him to Todd Helton and maybe even Jason Giambi. I find myself talking about the bust factor of prospects a lot, how probable is it that this guy will never amount to anything. Well, with Barton the bust factor is almost non existant. The guy has already produced, so we're not just 'hoping' like we kind of are with Herrera, he doesn't K too much, which is often a prospects downfall, he's not just a pull hitter or a pure slugger, he has an excellent walk rate. The odds of Barton being a 'good' major league baseball player are very very high, even for a top prospect.
Projected location to start 2006: Sacramento's starting 1B
So that does it for the prospect countdown. Keep coming back daily though as I will continue to make frequent posts over the course of the offseason. Keep telling people about my site and hopefully we'll add more visitors. Coming up shortly I will have a special post to make, until then will be Fall League updates, prospect thoughts, guys who just missed the list (in one case, because I'm dumb and pretty much forgot him) guys I'd expect the breakout next season and guys who may be next years John Baker