Chicago Cubs Prospect Profile: Darwin Barney

Darwin Barney is a 24-year old right handed shortstop drafted by the Cubs in 2007. Barney is ranked 18th in the Cubs farm system by Baseball America and 15th by Baseball Prospectus. According to Vine Line’s Fifty Nifty Names from the Farm, Darwin has the best baseball IQ among Cubs prospects, and is first in competitiveness. Darwin Barney knew nothing but success in his early days in baseball. His first major success came at South Ridge high school in Beaverton, Oregon where he helped lead his team to its first state championship in 2002. Next came in 2005, when he was named the PAC-10 freshman of the year while playing for the Beavers at Oregon State University.

In 2006 Barney helped the Beavers win the College World Series, and then was selected to play for Team USA and helped his team win gold at the World University Championships. His college career wasn’t over yet he lead the Beavers back to the College World Series and won again in 2007, he was the star in that performance.

Barney had a very busy 2007. His professional career began after being drafted in the fourth round (137th overall pick) by the Chicago Cubs. He also had a short acting career with a role in the baseball movie “Calvin Marshall” with actor Steve Zahn, the filming was done in 2007 as well. (Here’s a link and article about it, including a clip from the movie Aaron Fentress, The Oregonian.) I have not watched the movie yet, but It is definitely on my to do list.

Darwin has rocketed through the Cubs farm system making it all the way up to AAA in less than two full seasons (39 games in 2007, full season in 2008, made it to AAA halfway through 2009), going from five games in rookie league ball to Low-A Peoria, where he played 39 games all in 2007, the year he was drafted. In 2007 he hit .273/.323/.392.

In 2008 Barney was promoted to High A Daytona where he hit .262/.325/.357 and he continued to play stellar defense. Darwin Barney showed a lot of progress offensively last year in AA he hit .317/.368/.401 in 74 games improving his batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. Then he was promoted to AAA for the second half of the season(62 Games), he struggled a bit at first upon his promotion, after 14 games he was hitting .170, but went on to pull his average up to .268/.308/.368 at AAA.

Combined between AA and AAA he hit .293/.339/.369/.708, I’ve heard him compared a lot to Ryan Theriot at the dish, but with better defense. Barney stole nine bases last year and was caught twice. While Barney most likely is not going to be is a starting Major League shortstop, he is primarily known for his superior defense, great range and a very solid arm. He is not a power hitter or a speed guy who is going to steal a lot of bases. To make it to the majors and stick around, he needs to keep up a decent batting average, and on base percentage, and continue to play above average defense.

With Starlin Castro and Hak-Ju Lee, both up and coming prospects, and incumbent shortstop Ryan Theriot, where does Darwin Barney fit into the Cubs plans?

We already know that Darwin Barney can play solid defense at shortstop. All reports suggest that Starlin Castro will be the starting shortstop at AAA Iowa to start the season. Darwin Barney will most likely be the starting second baseman for the Iowa Cubs. He will probably play some shortstop, and might even play some third base and outfield in the coming season for the Iowa Cubs. All reports suggest that the Cubs will go into the season with Mike Fontenot as the backup shortstop, unless Fontenot shows he can’t play shortstop, Barney has very little chance to make the team, barring an injury.

Barney is projected to be a utility guy in the majors. Interesting to note this spring he has played shortstop, third base, and second base. We could possibly see him in the majors this year (a September call up, or if there are any injuries) , if he has another performance like he did in AA, maybe with the help of a few tweaks by hitting Coach Rudy Jaramillo.

References: Fangraphs.com, Baseball Reference.com, Wikipedia.com

Note from the CCO … in our effort to increase the coverage of the Chicago Cubs Minor League system, the CCO is excited by the additions of Patrick and Brandon to our staff. The interest in the Cubs’ minor league system has increased ten-fold since ChicagoCubsOnline launched nearly five years ago. Brandon will provide Down on the Farm reports with updates from the games on Mondays and Thursdays, while Patrick will provide prospect profiles, among other reports on Wednesdays and Fridays.


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