The baseball world is very familiar with the exports of the Bad News Bears, a bumbling fictional team who just can’t seem to do much of anything right. This year, in reality, a very non-fictional Kyle Barrett, although being similarly named, somewhat thanks to a .342/.405/.474 month of July, has become the polar (pun intended) opposite and is proving himself to be one of the best players in the Marlins’ minor league system this season.
Andrew Kyle Barrett, who just celebrated his 23rd birthday on August 4th, is the Marlins’ 2015 fifth rounder out of Kentucky. Prior to his collegiate days, Barrett attended high school in Douglasville, GA. After playing basketball as a freshman, he hit .485 as a junior and as a senior he hit .564 with a combined six homers and collected two combined All-America team honors. The accolades kept coming upon his graduation to the Wildcats in 2013 when he lead his entire team in batting average (.349) and OBP (.407) in his freshman season on a team which also held current Marlins’ MiLBer J.T. Riddle. His BA also placed 12th in the entire SEC, a league which held the likes of top prospects Alex Bregman, Hunter Renfroe, and Tony Kemp. After finishing that season reaching base in 19 straight games (which attributed to him reaching safely in a total of 34 of his 38 games), Barrett earned a spot playing alongside the aforementioned Bregman on the All-SEC Freshman Team. In 2014, Barrett ran his total of games reached safely in to 35 as he reached in 16 straight, all via a hit to open his sophomore year. On the whole that year, he took a bit of a step back numbers wise as the sophomore slump bit him and spelled out a .253/.354/.312 slash line. However, Barrett came back with a vengeance in summer league play in the Cape Cod league, hitting .317/.354/.358 with the Harwich Mariners. His BA ranked third on his team as did his 10 stolen bases. As the 11th best for-average bat in the league, he earned a spot in the Cape’s All-Star Game. Barrett rode that momentum in to his junior year where he enjoyed his best season to date, placing second on the team in BA (.354), third in OBP (.394) and third in slugging (.443). He showed off his blazing speed on the regular, stretching would-be singles into doubles and doubles into triples. He also added seven steals in 11 attempts. His BA ranked second on the Wildcats, his OBP and SLG both third.
With a career .324/.386/.391 slash line in college along with a 57% stolen base success rate, great defense, and plus speed on top of two great seasons in the summer leagues, Barrett attracted attention as early as the 10th round of the 2015 draft. He fell to the 15th round where the Marlins drafted him 446th overall. Minus four games with the Muckdogs at the end of 2015, Barrett is getting his first taste of pro ball this year with the Grasshoppers. And my, what a tasty morsel it is. After getting his feet wet with a .182/.243/.212 April and a .260/.309/.260 May, Barrett exploded onto the scene in June when he hit .337/.352/.372. Things only got better for the stout left hander in July when he hit .342/.405/.474. Over that two month span he reached in 32 of his 45 games via a hit and in 36 of 45 overall, spelling a .377 OBP mostly out of the lead-off spot. Over that span, his yearly BA rose from .230 to .302. He also added seven total steals in nine attempts.
Standing at a petite 5’11” and weighing just 185, Barrett cuts down on his strike zone by getting low in his straight away stance. His light load, good bat speed and slappy singles bat have allowed him to enjoy a more than decent contact rate and an ability to still barrell up balls despite committing to a swing late into the pitch, a great sign for a future leadoff man. On the contrary, Barrett is a bit too of an aggressive bat early in the count as he looks to barrell up fastballs which often leads to him failing to maintain his soft hands and instead trying to do too much and lose his balance. This is what has led to his heightened K/BB for all of his career so far. If he hopes to succeed as a top of the order man, Barrett will need to be a bit more patient early in ABs and learn to go with breaking pitches as well as he does on heaters. If he can do that, the level-headed speedy baserunner and overall heady player who isn’t afraid to take advantage of what the defense gives him as he is always a candidate to squeeze a bunt down successfully for a hit if the infield plays back and reach thanks to his plus jets, most definitely has a future as a top of the order catalyst.
On the common occasion that Barrett, who once ran a 6.77 60 yard dash, reaches base, he is a threat to steal every time. He utilizes that speed in the outfield well by making good straight reads and covering all the ground necessary and then some. He finishes off his five-tool skill set by possessing a plus arm which can make on-line throws from all three positions, though his best suited position is probably center.
With a great makeup already in a very immature career, if Barrett, who just turned 23, can receive some nurturing regarding his approach early in counts, he has more than a potential future as a fire starter in the upper levels of the minors and further. I will be watching him closely as his career progresses.