Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Austin Barnes, acquired in the Dee Gordon trade back in December 2014, has played 284 of his 570 career minor league games at catcher. So, how does the big league club want him to get ready for a life in the Majors? By playing second base and third base, of course.
Now, to be fair, Barnes has had experience at each of those two positions. Barnes spent 151 games at second base thus far in his minor league career, and he spent 16 at third base. Those are the three positions he’s played. And, due to that, the Dodgers want him to be a versatile player.
The 26-year old Riverside native is certainly going to get every opportunity during Spring Training to make a major impact. Whether that happens at catcher, second base, or third base remains to be seen, but his level of versatility is one that the team is certainly happy about.
Barnes only hit .207 in a brief stint in The Show last season, but he did post a .361 on-base percentage in 37 plate appearances. With Yasmani Grandal at catcher right now, Barnes’ added value of being able to play other positions lends itself to helping the team in a lot of ways.
With Justin Turner’s injury, and Howie Kendrick being able to slide over to first base if Adrian Gonzalez needs a day off, Barnes can man second or third base if needed. And that type of versatility is something that a lot of teams would kill to have. He can play three positions, and play them well.
Whether Barnes turns into something substantial down the road remains to be seen, but this type of ability to make an impact in multiple ways at multiple positions shouldn’t be looked down upon. He, essentially, acts as three players in one, and it gives manager Dave Roberts a ton of options.