May 24, 2005
To call Brian Barton’s 2005 season dominant would be an understatement. He made pitchers in both levels of full-season Single-A look foolish en route to astronomical stat lines for both the Lake County Captains (first half) and Kinston Indians (second half).
His Kinston numbers were impressive enough. A .274/.404/.435 slash with 32 RBI, 24 extra-base hits (15 doubles, 6 triples, 3 homers), and 13 stolen bases (in 21 attempts) in 64 games. The numbers that earned him the call-up to Eastern North Carolina were even more so. He slashed .414/.506/.624 (an insane 1.30 OPS) while driving in 32 runs, scoring 31, hitting 19 extra-base hits (14 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR), and stealing seven bases in nine attempts in ONLY 35 GAMES! The 19 extra-base hits represent over a third of his overall hit total (34.5% of 55). While the exact reason for the small sample size was hard to find (SAL transaction data maddeningly only goes back to July 2005), the fact that he didn’t start his competitive season until May 15 is a sign that it was likely injury-related.
Fifteen years ago today, Brian played his tenth game of the season in as many days since being activated. Through nine games, he was hitting .457/.525/.743, was on a seven-game hitting streak, and had reached base safely in every game if you count a hit by pitch in his second game of the campaign eight days earlier. While he couldn’t keep up this lofty level of performance long-term, as you can see above it was fairly reflective of what he was capable of at this level.
As the second batter up in the bottom of the second, he hit the Captains’ first hit of the day, a fly-ball double to left field that put him and leadoff hitter 2B Argenis Reyes, who walked, in scoring position (both would later score). He repeated the two-bag feat an inning later with a two-out fly ball, this time to right. He would score one hitter later on another double, this one off the bat of LF Mike Butia. His final hit of the day would come on another two-out fly ball to right, which scored SS Brian Finegan (who had been hit by a pitch earlier in the inning) for the Caps’ final run of the day on, you guessed it, a double.
This three-double performance was his third game with three hits or more in his first ten played that season. He had already come within a triple of the cycle on two occasions (2 1B, 1 2B, 1 HR in his season debut and one of each other type of hit three days earlier). Between the 11:05 AM start and him finally getting a day off on the 25th, Brian had plenty of time to savor this stellar day in the sun at the Corner of SOM Center and Vine.
For the record, Barton would go on to play in 83 major league games, mostly for the 2008 St. Louis Cardinals (one pinch running appearance in which he finished the game in right field for the ’09 Braves).