The 19th overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, right-handed pitcher Matt Barnes wasted little time in beginning his professional career down the right path. The 21-year-old dominated opposing batters during the first week of the 2012 season, en route to being named the South Atlantic League's Pitcher of the Week for April 5th thru 15th.
Making his professional debut on April 8th, Barnes turned in a masterful performance against the Lakewood BlueClaws, twirling 5.0 shutout innings while striking out nine batters. The former UConn Husky allowed just two hits and two walks in picking up the victory.
Just five days later Barnes was just as impressive versus the West Virginia Power. Although he earned a no-decision, Barnes once again tossed 5.0 shutout innings, allowing just one base hit and striking out seven.
Through the first week of the season, Barnes finds himself amongst South Atlantic League leaders in Earned Run Average (T-1st, 0.00), Strikeouts (T-3rd, 16), WHIP (2nd, 0.50), Average Against (2nd, .086), K/9 IP Ration amongst starting pitchers (3rd,14.40), and Fewest Baserunners/9 IP Ration amongst starting pitchers (2nd, 4.50).
The Red Sox first selection in last year's draft, Barnes is rated by Baseball America as the number two pitching prospect - and number eighth prospect overall - in the farm system.
As a junior for the University of Connecticut in 2011, Barnes went 11-5 with a 1.93 ERA (26 ER/121.0 IP) and 117 strikeouts in 17 starts. He was unanimously chosen as the Big East's Pitcher of the Year, named a Louisville Slugger and Baseball America All-American and selected to the Big East All-Academic Team.
Barnes won the Big East pitching Triple Crown, leading the conference in wins, strikeouts, and ERA during the regular season.
The Drive are currently in the midst of their first road trip of the season, and return home Thursday to Fluor Field for a four-game series with the Augusta GreenJackets, affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. First pitch for Thursday's contest is set for 7:05 PM.
For more information regarding single-game tickets, group outings, luxury accommodations, birthday parties, Field Street parties, picnics and Field of Dreams packages at the ballpark, call (864) 240-4500 or log onto GreenvilleDrive.com.
Additional Notes: Barnes is the 5th pitcher in Drive franchise history to be selected as the South Atlantic League's Pitcher of the Week - Brock Huntzinger (7/27-8/3/2009), Cesar Cabral (4/26-5/3/2010), Manuel Rivera (4/25-5/2/2011) and Anthony Ranaudo (5/2-5/9/2011)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.