2011 Spring Training

Barfield Looking to Return to Big Leagues

At first, it was easy for Josh Barfield. Son of a big leaguer, a breeze through the minors, and an excellent first year in the majors made it seem as though stardom was within reach.

Barfield came into the league a highly touted prospect with the San Diego Padres organization. The progeny of former masher Jesse Barfield, Josh was a fourth round pick in the 2001 draft and was named the number one prospect for the Padres by Baseball America in both 2004 and 2005. He lived up to the high draft position and hype with a solid rookie season.

Can Josh Barfield make the Phillies with a solid spring? (PHOTO: AP)

In 2006, Barfield hit .280 with 21 steals and 13 home runs, flashing a nice display of speed and power, with the ability to hit for average. After a fine rookie campaign with the Padres, Barfield was dealt to the Cleveland Indians for another highly ranked prospect; third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff.

The deal proved to be a career-changing move for Barfield as he struggled mightily in Cleveland. In ’07, he began the year as the lead dog at second base, but lost his starting position to Asdrubal Cabrera. He never regained it.

After spending most of 2008 and 2009 at Triple-A Buffalo, Barfield went back to the Padres last year, but did not stick.

He now finds himself in an unusual situation. With a utility role potentially up for grabs at the major league level (at least for the time being with Chase Utley sidelined) Barfield is trying to prove he belongs.

“Barfield has definitely hit,” Manager Charlie Manuel said today, after his latest solid performance.  “He’s caught my eye some.”

Manuel also thinks Barfield may have been caught in a rough situation with two underachieving organizations. When you’re on a losing team, and things go bad, they look for something to do. They’ll start trying things,” He said. “A lot of times, that’s why they stay under .500 for a long time.”

With competition like Delwyn Young also standing out, Barfield is behind the eight ball. The old adage is you can never have too much pitching, but we’re starting to learn that you can never have too many working infielders – last year taught us that, this spring reaffirms it.

On Sunday, Barfield started at third base against the Twins in Ft. Myers and batted at the top of the order. Once again, he did not disappoint, going 2-for-4 with a double, a run, and an RBI. He’s now 9-for-19 this spring at the plate, while playing solid defense at second base, and today, third base.

“I came in and feel good. I’m having good at-bats,” said Barfield.  “Hopefully I can carry that on through the rest of the spring.”

Odds are, Barfield will start the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, if anywhere. But he’s certainly making the Phillies decision-makers think about it.

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0 Comments

  1. Manny

    March 14, 2011 at 9:06 am

    It’s good to know more about him –I didn’t know he was such as highly touted prospect. Some talent should be there, and if he can help us while Utley is down, welcome aboard.

    Pat, you also mention Delwyn Young. Is he clearly the frontrunner for this position? Who has the higher upside between these two guys?

  2. Brian Sr. of CO

    March 14, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I agree that if you play for underachieving organizations, it will bring you down. He probably tried too hard, and wanted to try to changes things too much, and it really affected him. I have been impressed with him thus far, and would love to see him make the team. Its not like he is an all star, but if he can come in, and fill in hitting .280 with 21 steals, and 13 home runs, that sounds good to me. Not to mention, that .280 and 13 home runs was in San Diego, and pitchers park by far. Chances are good that he might be able to hit for about the same average, if not slightly better, and probably hit 15-20 homers. The Bank is a hitters friendly park.

  3. The Original Chuck P

    March 14, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I like Barfield… if/when he figures it out, he could be special and the culture here has helped other guys figure it out (namely Werth and Vic). I think that you can have both Young and Barfield if you’re willing to keep one less pitcher, which I think we can do since we have the four horses and Heavy Joe B who loves eating innings (among many other things). You like how I did that?

    I think that it’s going to come down to 2-3 pitchers and 3-4 position players out of Kendrick, Baez, Herndon, Mathieson, Worley, Zagurski, Bastardo (pitchers) and Barfield, Mayberry, Orr, Young, Bocock, Martinez (Rule 5), Larish. My picks… I’m thinking Baez and Herndon… sorry KK… and Mayberry, Young, Barfield and one of Martinez or Orr. If they take another pitcher, it could be KK (ugh)… hoping it’s Worley but I think that they’ll opt to keep him on the farm as a starter (potential trade bait)

    • Schultzie

      March 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      The OChuckP

      Fully agree on Barfield’p potential “blossoming” and selections . Seems 11 pitchers is adequate, at least until there’s an injury. Might as well start with vets (Baez Herndon) in Philly and let Mathieson et al get more playing time thru June/July in Allentown.

  4. Dropped Strike Three

    March 14, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    I like Barfield more than Delwyn Young at this point. Assuming Utley starts the season on the DL, one of the two makes the team as a utility infield guy. Mayberry Jr, Schneider, Gload round out your bench, though I would also prefer a 5th hitter over another pitcher.

  5. Lefty

    March 14, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    19 AB’s is a very small sample size, especially against some of the minor league pitchers we’ve faced. But, given time these next two weeks as the pitching gets better and the sample size gets larger, maybe this guy can help us. Let’s hope so.

    OCP- You got a chuckle out of me.

    • Lefty

      March 14, 2011 at 1:28 pm

      Whoops- Make that 20 AB’s and another hit- .500 now

  6. Publius

    March 14, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    I’ve liked what I’ve seen out of him – good pop, nice fielding and some speed. Hopefully he beats out Valdez for Utley replacement while the latter convalesces. I like his upside a LOT better than Valdez’.

    • Chuck

      March 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm

      No surprise there.

  7. tavian

    March 15, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Regarding Barfield, a friend of mine who lives in the San Diego area said Barfield was great in 2006, his rookie year. The Pads traded him for Kevin Kouzmanoff to Cleveland.
    Barfield got hurt, and fell off the radar until last year when the Padres invited him to Spring Training after the Indians cut him. He did not make the Padres’ roster in 2010. Josh Barfield not only has talent but a lot to prove. A good combination for a guy age 28. This may be his last opportunity to make the Bigs and it may be good news for Philly fans. Sounds like a situatiion similar to Werth and Victorino, doesn’t it?

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