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Red Sox right-hander Matt Barnes moving up to Triple-A Pawtucket

08.28.13 at 7:46 pm ET
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According to Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times, Red Sox right-hander Matt Barnes is in Pawtucket, where he will make his Triple-A debut on Thursday following a promotion from Double-A Portland. Barnes, 23, has endured an up-and-down season with Portland. In 24 starts, he has a 5-10 record and 4.33 ERA with 3.8 walks per nine innings. However, he’s also leading the Eastern League with 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings.

Barnes has shown a quality, big league-caliber fastball that he can command while sitting comfortably at 92-94 mph and topping out higher than that. He also has developed a changeup that grades as a solid big league offering. At this point, while he flashes an ability to spin a decent curveball, his ability to do so has been inconsistent — and, according to a number of scouts who have seen him, infrequent — with the inability to develop a consistent third pitch he can throw for strikes resulting in high pitch counts and pitch inefficiency. The result has been a year in which Barnes has found it difficult to work deep into games. He’s worked more than six innings just once this year. Indeed, he’s averaging just 4 1/2 innings per start.

That said, there have been some extended stretches of promise that pointed to why Barnes entered the year as the consensus top pitching prospect in the Red Sox system, and why he still has a shot at living up to the mid-rotation potential that the Sox saw in him when they made him the No. 19 overall pick in the 2011 draft. The development of his curveball (or, if that pitch doesn’t take hold, a slider) likely will determine whether he will come closer to scraping that ceiling or be more of a back-of-the-rotation starter.

‘€œThis year obviously hasn’€™t been everything I’€™ve wanted it to be so far,’€ Barnes said on Down on the Farm in July. ‘€œI’€™ve gone through times this year where I’€™ve had really good stretches of outings and times where I’€™ve had really bad stretches of outings. It’€™s one of those developmental things where you keep trying to work hard, keep trying to refine your pitches, learn how to pitch better and get through it.

‘€œI feel close. That’€™s part of the frustration. I think my stuff right now is better than it was at any point last year,’€ he added, noting that he feels that his fastball command is comparable to what it was last year and that his changeup has made considerable strides to become a consistent secondary weapon, while his curve has been, at times, better in part thanks to the tutelage of former Portland teammate Brandon Workman. ‘€œIt’€™s maybe one pitch that hurts me. I feel like I’€™m on the cusp of getting back to stringing together a bunch of good outings again.’€

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