Best Baseball Prospect

Daric Barton

Oakland A's

Barton, a catcher, came over from the Cardinals as the undercard in the Mark Mulder deal, which was being derided and mocked and generally screamed about in some of our finer media outlets before anyone even bothered to look at the numbers. (Ray Ratto in the Chronicle described the trade as Mulder "for pitchers Dan Haren, Kiko Calero and catcher Daric Barton, like that matters.") What they should've seen is Barton, in Single-A Peoria last year, hitting .313 and slugging .511 (with a .445 on-base percentage) as an 18-year-old. Some are already comparing him to a young Albert Pujols, and most everyone says he's already one of the best hitting prospects in the minors. There's talk he'll spend this season in Double-A and move up to the bigs by 2006, possibly as a first baseman; according to even the most conservative projections, Barton'll be a productive hitter in short order, perhaps even an All-Star. "If the Cardinals deal this kid," wrote one Web site before the trade, "it better be for more than some magic beans. Barton has the potential to be a future franchise player." Like that matters.

 
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