Showing his upside

Barnes received early invitation to Minnesota's spring training

By Barbara Boxleitner
Special to The Item
Posted 3/6/18

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Charlie Barnes has shown his upside to the Minnesota Twins.

The Sumter High School graduate, who pitched for Clemson University, is among the minor-league pitchers invited early to spring training.

The 22-year-old has been …

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Showing his upside

Barnes received early invitation to Minnesota's spring training

Posted

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Charlie Barnes has shown his upside to the Minnesota Twins.

The Sumter High School graduate, who pitched for Clemson University, is among the minor-league pitchers invited early to spring training.

The 22-year-old has been in early camp since Feb. 19 after completing his first year of professional ball at two affiliates.

"It was awesome," the left-hander said. "I was definitely excited. It's always good when they give you opportunities like this."

The 6-foot-2 Barnes was 2-1 with a 1.19 earned run average in six appearances for Rookie club Elizabethton and 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in six outings for Class A Cedar Rapids. "I thought I did a good job, especially with how many innings I had thrown," he said.

His minor-league debut was his toughest outing for Elizabethton. He allowed two earned runs in two and one-third innings, suffering the loss. He issued a season-high three bases on balls.

Two weaker performances inflated his ERA at Cedar Rapids. He allowed seven hits and six earned runs, including three home runs, in three innings of a no decision against Quad Cities. The mid-August day was windy, and he yielded consecutive homers - one a grand slam in his final inning.

"They were flying some, and I was just behind hitters a lot," he said. "I was continuously chasing counts, something I can't do, and so it was definitely a learning experience for me, and I got better from it."

During his last appearance of the season, he gave up seven hits and four earned runs in four and two-third innings to lose his start against Burlington.

"I was really happy with Charlie," said J.P. Martinez, Minnesota's minor-league assistant pitching coordinator who was his Cedar Rapids pitching coach. "I knew coming in that he had an advanced feel for pitching, and I think we saw that in Cedar Rapids."

Barnes projects as a starter and started all but one of his games last year. He has an effective arsenal, Martinez said, and his velocity typically was 86 to 88 mph. "He had one of the best changeups in the draft," he said. "That held true in Cedar Rapids."

"He's a guy who's got some pretty good sink," Martinez said. "You may see the sinker a little bit more this year. We'll keep seeing the four-seam (fastball), but you might see that makeshift more toward the two-seam."

He thinks Barnes eventually will combine his curveball and cutter into a "pretty good slurve."

Barnes rested after the season and didn't resume throwing until mid-December. He trained near Clemson and said he threw almost daily, starting with 10 to 15 pitches and eventually reaching 40 to 45. He worked to "tighten my slider up a little and sharpen my curveball some," he said.

He also focused on fastball command, which suffered a bit last year. "He just wouldn't get the ball to where he was trying to get it to within the zone," Martinez said. "He got in the habit of pulling off to the third base side a little bit. He spent some time on that in the off-season and got his direction to the plate cleaned up."

Barnes gained seven pounds and reported at 190 pounds, what the coaches wanted. He has been conditioning daily and lifting weights three times a week.

He participates in a series of rotations on the back fields at the Twins complex. The sessions cover fundamentals such as holding runners and bunt defense. He has been throwing bullpens every third day. His first one was 20 pitches, his subsequent ones 32 pitches.

He pitched to hitters during Friday's practice. He threw 12 pitches, just fastballs and changeups.