“It still hasn’t really hit me yet,” said Barnes about his contract to play for the Gulf Coast League Yankees. “It’s pretty awesome to be playing ball for America’s team.”
Barnes, who helped carry the Arlington Tigers to a Division 1 AAA state championship in 2012, entered into the contract June 11 with the “Rookie Ball” division of the New York Yankees. He’ll play against a half-dozen other Gulf Coast divisions of MLB teams during his time in Tampa, Fla., before what he hopes will be a rise to Yankee stadium in New York.
The teen, who turns 19 this week, was selected as a 15th round draft pick. He’d just been playing ball for one season for the Northwest Mississippi Community College Rangers.
“I worked really hard and thought maybe I’d get picked up as a sophomore,” said Barnes. “I never imagined I’d be picked up as a freshman.”
In his only season in a Ranger uniform, the Barnes hit .324 with 10 doubles, three triples, a home run, 24 RBIs and 31 runs scored. A First Team All-Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges selection, Barnes was also a team-best 22-for-22 in stolen bases with a team-leading .475 on-base percentage.
The former Arlington right fielder, who will play center for the Yankees, said his seven-year contract for $100,000 a year includes an incentive for playing at least 90 days in higher divisions. Barnes said he’s about six steps away from taking the field in New York, but he hopes he won’t have to play in each one of them to reach his ultimate goal.
Meanwhile, the son of Kenny and Tabitha Barnes – whose older brother, Justin, also played college ball – said he’s relishing his new opportunity.
“I never had a dime to my name before,” said Barnes. “This is unbelievable.”