Fantasy Sleeper & Bio: Brian Barton
This rocket scientist… Yep an actual rocket scientist that tempted at Boeing a few summers ago, may be playing himself into a larger role on the rebuilding Cardinals. Couple this with the fact that he has to stay on the roster for the entire 2008 season and you have a sleeper in deep NL only leagues.
A quick history on Brian Barton: The Indians gambled by keeping Barton off of their 40 man roster and the Cardinals snapped him up as a Rule 5 pick. According to MLB rules, the Cardinals must keep Barton on their active MLB roster for the entire 2008 campaign (similar to Joakim Soria & the Royals in 2007) or they have to offer Barton back to the Indians.
When signed (as an undrafted free agent due to his other career) by the Indians they had to roll up $100,000 + $100,000 in college funds. That summer Barton, an aerospace engineer tempted at Boeing. After finishing college he put his space career on hold and joined the Indians farm system. Here are his milb stats:
I caught Barton a few times last season in Buffalo and he’s a very toolsy player. I did find his plate discipline lacking, something that the stats back up. For his milb career he has maintained a high batting average, which has helped to push his OBP over .400. His power rates are better than they appear in his stat lines when you break things down to a per PA rate. Obviously speed is a big asset for Barton and his AA numbers over 2006 & 2007 demonstrate strong OPS production coupled with stolen base potential.
Since the Cardinals are essentially forced into keeping Barton on their roster, he’ll earn his fair share of playing time in the odd start, pinch running duty and as a defensive replacement. His competition for a full-time gig is suspect at best. Here is the Cardinals outfield depth chart minus Colby Rasmus:
Even if Rasmus starts the season in St.Louis (which isn’t a 100% given at this point), Barton could steal some ABs and even a spot if everything plays out well.
This spring Barton is turning some heads. He’s currently #2 in triples but is producing across the board.
If you are in a deep NL only league or a deep keeper league Barton can be had for essentially nothing, as he isn’t on anyone’s radar. Put him on yours and you may catch a diamond in the rough.