Top 50 Prospect Profile: Brian Barden

The new year is here, and the FutureBacks.com Top 50 debuts tomorrow.  The Top 50 will feature profiles, commentary, and analysis from the FutureBacks.com staff, Diamondbacks coaches and officials, as well as Scout.com experts.  In a FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT we drop in on former Oregon State University standout Brian Barden.

Vital Statistics:

Name Brian Barden
Position Third Base
Age 23
Height 5'11"
Weight 200
Bats Right
Throws Right
'04 Club Double-A El Paso Diablos (Texas League), Triple-A Tucson Sidewinders (Pacific Coast League)

Barden was barely scouted coming out of high school, but played so well in a tournament in Oregon his senior year that the Oregon State Beavers offered him a spot as a walk on.  He accepted, and then rewarded the OSU coaching staff by becoming the team MVP, landing honors as a defensive star at third base, and then eventually getting drafted in the sixth round by the Diamondbacks in 2002.

'04 Club Avg HR RBI Slugging %
Double-A El Paso Diablos (Texas League) .303 3 28 .462
Triple-A Tucson Sidewinders (Pacific Coast League) .283 8 50 .476

Batting and Power:  He seems like a mirror image of Chad Tracy, good contact, line-drive hitter with minimal power, but at the hot corner, he'll need to put up bigger home run and slugging numbers.  He's never hit more than eight homers in a season as a pro, and the last time he consciously tried to hit for power (in the Cape Cod League while he was still at Oregon State) his average dipped below .250.  

"He's a real nice line drive hitter, but I'm not sure if he's going to ever start at the major league level," FutureBacks.com's David Merchant says, "He stays back on the ball well, but there's just no lift in his swing."

Base running and Speed:  He's not a burner, but reads pitchers well.  He'll be a situational steals guy, quick enough to get maybe ten steals a year, and sometimes gets too aggressive on the bases, though the organization likes the fact that he challenges outfielders, at the major league level though a lot of arms could make him pay for his challenges.

Defense: Slick is the best word to describe Barden's fielding. His defense is stellar, and always has been (he was twice voted the best defensive infielder in college by Baseball America) with fantastic range and a strong accurate arm he saves a lot of doubles and dares even the fastest hitters to bunt on him.

ETA:  There's a glut of 3rd base prospects in the D'Backs organization.  In addition to the just signed Troy Glaus and recently moved to first Chad Tracy, Jaime D'Antona is a power hitting stud at Double-A who is coming back from injury, Corey Myers seems to be getting moved behind the plate but has had success at third, and if Sergio Santos continues to have problems at short his next stop will be 3rd base.  All of those guys (except Tracy) have significantly more power than Barden, and at least one (Santos) is considered a "can't miss" bat at the Major League level.  Barden's best hope may be at a different position (second base) or with another organization, and several (including the Seattle Mariners before they signed Adrian Beltre) have expressed interest.

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