Results tagged ‘ Aaron Barrett ’
by Kyle Mann
On the final day of its Summer Academy Program, the scholar-athletes at the Washington Nationals’ Youth Baseball Academy had a few special visitors.
Aaron Barrett, Ian Desmond, Kevin Frandsen, Scott Hairston and Adam LaRoche visited the YBA on Friday morning, and though the experience was surely one the nearly-100 scholar-athletes participating would never forget, the Nationals players may have been the ones most impacted.
“It’s been a blast to be here,” LaRoche said of the Academy, a place he referred to as ‘The Disneyland of Baseball.’ “It was two hours of nothing but fun and smiles.”
The schedule for the day included games played simultaneously on the Academy’s three fields, one overseen by Hairston and his two sons, Dallas and Landon, one run by LaRoche and his daughter, Montana, and another by Barrett and Frandsen.
Desmond, who hosts a group of 20 Academy scholar-athletes at Nationals Park every month during the season as part of his Ian’s Academy All-Stars program, is also a Youth Baseball Academy Board Member. Serving in a role best described as roving fun instructor, he rotated between fields, alternating teaching proper footwork around the second base bag and giving one-on-one pep talks to future stars.
“All we can do is try to make an impact,” Desmond said. “It’s good for the kids, the parents, it’s all positive.”
While the constant chants supporting every batter emphasized how much fun this day was for the kids, Summer Academy coach Travaughn Kinney reminded his team about the importance of striving to be your best.
“Focus on having fun, but we love to win,” he told his team as they took the field.
Kinney, a two-sport college athlete from D.C., discussed the importance of baseball for children as part of their development.
“Baseball teaches patience, and kids from (this area) need that,” he said. “Baseball truly requires a team, and that’s my favorite part about the game.”
The Youth Baseball Academy is about a lot more than baseball, and the Summer Academy program is no exception. An integral part of the YBA’s year-round youth development program, the Summer Academy provides a safe, fun, and active learning environment that furthers its mission to use baseball and softball as vehicles to develop literacy and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills. The program also teaches scholar-athletes how to lead healthy lifestyles through fitness, proper nutrition and cooking lessons in a safe, nurturing environment.
The scholar-athletes partaking in the Summer Academy included rising fourth and fifth graders who participated in the Academy’s inaugural After-School Program, and rising third graders who started with the first Summer Academy.
In future years, Academy attendees will matriculate through the eighth grade while a class of rising third graders is added. To supplement learning at the Academy, the scholar-athletes took part in weekly experiential-learning field trips, including to the United States Botanic Gardens, the Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater and the National Zoo.
But playing baseball with their favorite Nationals on the program’s final day may have offered the biggest highlight.
Here’s a photo gallery from the day:
We’ve brought you Down on the Farm reports of several of the top prospects in the Nationals system this fall after their participation in the Arizona Fall League. And while most fans already were familiar with names like Anthony Rendon and Brian Goodwin, far less are likely to be acquainted with the likes of 24 year-old Aaron Barrett. The Evansville, IN native also played in the AFL this year, but the fact that he ended up there was anything but preordained.
Barrett began his career with back-to-back seasons in the Short-season New York Penn League, where he posted impressive strikeout totals (57) but unnerving walk totals (44) in 47.2 total innings. He showed flashes of the talent that led him to be drafted four separate times by four different teams – the Dodgers in the 44th round out of high school, the Twins in the 20th round out of Wabash Valley Junior College, the Rangers in the 27th round as a University of Mississippi junior, and finally the Nationals in the ninth round following his 2010 senior season. He was the second Bulldog to be taken in the draft that year (behind fifth-overall pick Drew Pomeranz), and continued a solid trend of talented players emerging from the SEC school, joining Lance Lynn (’08) and Zack Cozart (’07). But it took until this year for Barrett to begin to fully realize his potential on the mound.
The 6’4” right-hander opened his third professional campaign at Low-A Hagerstown pitching out of the back of the bullpen, where he quickly established himself as the Suns closer. Barrett converted 16 of 18 save opportunities, striking out an eyebrow-raising 52 batters in just 34.2 innings pitched while notching a 2.60 ERA. But perhaps his greatest accomplishment was walking just 11 over that span. The hurler’s impressive performance earned him a late-season promotion to High-A Potomac. Barrett took the move in stride, actually improving upon his already excellent season.
With the P-Nats, Barrett fanned 21 hitters while walking just three in 17.0 innings over 11 relief appearances. He yielded just a pair of earned runs, bringing his ERA for the season down to a paltry 2.09. His improved peripherals led to an overall 5.21 strikeout-to-walk ratio and an 0.93 WHIP. That earned him a trip to join some of the top prospects in the game in the AFL, where he posted a respectable 3.27 ERA with 10 strikeouts against just two walks in 11.0 innings for the Salt River Rafters. More importantly, he showed no signs of being overmatched by the high level of competition, twice fanning both former first-rounder Grant Green and former number one overall pick Tim Beckham.
Showcasing mostly a two-pitch repertoire, Barrett flashes a fastball that sits in the low 90s and a slider as his out pitch. Despite his short time at Potomac in 2012, he has a chance to crack to Double-A Harrisbug roster by Opening Day, and certainly figures to advance there at some point in 2013, so long as he continues to exhibit the improved control that led him to success this season.