Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An Interview with Brandon Barnes

Brandon Barnes was the 6th round pick for the Astros in 2005.  In 2011, he split his time between Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City.  In 54 games at Corpus, he batted .286/.335/.453/.788 and in 71 games at Oklahoma City, he batted .197/.294/.402/.696.  He had a total of 26 doubles, five triples and 15 home runs for the season.

Playing for Sydney this winter, Brandon seemed to find his groove.  In 29 games, he hit .322/.382/.534/.916 with seven doubles, six home runs and 30 RBI’s.  Interestingly enough, he only hit .250 with the bases empty, but .379 with runners on and .389 with RISP.  He came back to the U.S. before the ABL finals to get ready for Spring Training.

WTH:  First of all, I'd like to hear more about how the Australian Baseball League differs from American Baseball. Is baseball gaining in popularity in Australia?  Are there many American and other foreign players participating?

BB:  The Aussie baseball league is awesome to start off. There is not much that differs from Aussie ball to American ball. It's all baseball where men go to compete and win. Baseball is growing for sure in Australia.  You see kids playing catch in the street and in the parks. It's not as big as it needs to be but it's getting there with the help of the ABL. There are many different ethnicities out here like Americans, Koreans, Japanese and, of course, your local Aussies.

WTH:  How did playing in the ABL come about?  Were you able to bring your wife and baby daughter along? Were you able to play tourist a bit?  Can you just give me a general impression of Australia and Sydney from your viewpoint?

BB:  I was looking for a job in the winter and everything was full so my agent made a call to the ABL and got me out here. I was not able to bring my daughter and wife with me but was able to fly home for Christmas. I have played tourist on many occasions - beaches, landmarks and even the zoo. I had to see a kangaroo before I left Sydney. Australia is beautiful and filled with great people that love their country. The people are relaxed and just living life. Sydney is a beautiful city with so much to offer. You can just walk around in amazement.

WTH:  You earned Player of the Week honors in Round 8, hitting .375 with four home runs, seven runs scored and 15 RBI's in 5 games.  Have you ever had a streak like that before?  Can you bottle that and bring it home with you?

BB:  I don't think I have had a stretch like that but I am learning what I can hit and what I can not. I learn more about my swing the more at bats I get. I'm going to bring everything I have learned here and bring it back for sure.

WTH:  Looking at last season for the Astros, you had been making steady progress up through the system and then hit a little bump in the road in Oklahoma City in which you weren't quite as successful.  What did you take away from your time in OKC and what are you working on to get back there and be successful?

BB:  Everybody hits a bump in the road sooner or later, and there is always something to take away from failure. I have learned a lot about mental preparation at the plate and that your mind plays a big part in this game. If I just play my game and don't try to do too much I will be successful.  It's when I put pressure on myself to play good is when things go wrong. Wherever I end up this year I will make sure people know who I am.

WTH:  You've always had pretty decent power numbers.  How do the Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City ballparks compare for a power hitter?

BB:  Corpus Christi is a more hitter friendly park but I feel if I put a good swing on the ball I can hit it out of any park. They are both beautiful stadiums.

WTH:  What will you be trying to accomplish in Spring Training?

BB:  I want to learn as much as possible while in camp and of course try everything I can to help the team get better. Get better in every aspect of the game.

WTH:  Finally, can you tell me something about yourself that most people don't know (and might be surprised to hear)?  It doesn't have to be baseball-related.

BB:  If you have ever seen me you could tell I have tattoos but I also have tattooed myself, friends and family members. I have been tattooing for about 5 years and I'm intrigued by art.

Brandon at Bondi Beach near Sydney, Australia

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