Former Southridge HS and Oregon State Shortstop Darwin Barney hit .317 with the Tennessee Smokies, and is now on his way to Triple-A. (Tennessee Smokies/Rennie Leon)
Monday, Darwin Barney learned that he had been selected for the AA Southern League All Star game to be played at Regions Park in Birmingham, Ala., on July 13.
Tuesday, he learned he is moving up to Triple-A Iowa.
The Beaverton, Ore. native who played his high school ball at Southridge High School hit .317 in Double-A and has hardly hit under .300 in the minor leagues. Even dating back to his three years at Oregon State, Darwin's lowest batting average with any given teams was the .273 he hit with the Peiroa Chiefs in 44 games in his rookie year in the Chicago organization.
He hit .317 in 74 games with Double-A Tennessee, going 80-for-252 from the plate. He had 12 doubles and three home runs.
The Iowa Cubs will be the fourth team that Darwin has played for in his minor league career, but he's kept moving in the right direction--up. After his performance in AA, his former manager, Ryne Sandberg, thinks that Darwin will stick in Triple-A:
"Yeah, it's long-term," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He proved himself here. He was an all-star and hit over .300 the whole time."
Sandburg has also ascended through the Cubs organizaion in recent years. He coached Darwin last year at Single-A Peoria.
"I've had him for two years. He'll fit right in [with Iowa]."
Darwin now becomes the eighth infielder on Iowa's roster, but only the second listed as a true shortstop. Anderson Machado out of Caracas, Venezuela is the other player listed as a shortstop, and he is only hitting .175 in the minors.
The current shorstop on the big-league club is Ryan Theriot. Al Yellon of Bleed Cubbie Blue had this to say on Theriot:
Theriot will be the Cub SS for a couple more years, unless new ownership comes in and sweeps out the baseball department. Theriot really is a better 2B; he doesn't really have the arm for SS, but Lou likes him. He's hitting better this year than last.
He's not really "young", either. He'll be 30 in December. If you want to start a firestorm on the Cubs website, go there and say you like Theriot's "scrappiness".
Theriot is in his ninth year in the Cubs organization. Like Darwin, Theriot also won a College World Series ring... he was on the LSU team that won it all in 2000.
[UPDATE] This from Josh Timmers, Bleed Cubbie Blue's minor league expert:
His chances of making it to the majors seem pretty good now. He's probably third on the Cubs list of minor league shortstops after Starlin Castro and Hak-ju Lee, but Barney is likely to be ready to make the majors a lot sooner than either of those two are. The issue is how much the Cubs want to stick with Theriot at SS next season. Theriot really could get moved over to second base and Barney could be there next season--there is no way that either Castro or Lee are ready for next year, but Barney could be.
I've gotten some reports from our readers that he was making a lot of stupid errors in TN--that doesn't jive with the stuff I've been getting from "official" sources that say the Cubs are really happy with Barney's defense. He's hit really well in TN, so he got promoted to IA because with Andres Blanco in Chicago, the Iowa Cubs needed an everyday shortstop. This is interesting because the Cubs had been trying to keep Barney together with FSU second baseman Tony Thomas, trying to build a chemistry between the two of them. Either the Cubs figured the chemistry was already there or that their hand was forced by Blanco going to Chicago or they've given up on Thomas keeping up with Barney.
The Cubs clearly consider Starlin Castro to be the shortstop of the future--he's a 19 year old who is hitting over .300 in High-A Daytona. But three things could happen to Barney. One, is that he gets to play SS in Chicago next season and Theriot is moved over to 2B and the Cubs worry about Castro later when he's ready. The next is he could get traded to another team that is willing to start him. The third is that Castro gets moved and Barney has a long time in Chicago.
I've often compared Barney to Pittsburgh SS Jack Wilson--not likely to be an all-star, but a strong glove and a bat that won't hurt you. He's not quite the defensive wizard that Wilson is, but he'll likely hit a little more.
So now, the question: How long will Darwin stay in Triple-A?