Sports

On the farm: Federal Way natives excelling in minor leagues

TJ grad Tony Barnette 5-2 with a 2.68 earned-run average since May 17. He has won four of his last five decisions after starting the season 3-6.  - Courtesy photo
TJ grad Tony Barnette 5-2 with a 2.68 earned-run average since May 17. He has won four of his last five decisions after starting the season 3-6.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Barnette flirts with a perfect game, Reid gets a taste of pro ball and Ishikawa on fire with bat

Tony Barnette is making a name for himself within the Arizona Diamondbacks’ organization. The Thomas Jefferson High School graduate is currently playing for the Mobile (Ala.) BayBears, the Class AA minor league affiliate of the Diamondbacks.

Barnette leads Mobile hurlers in victories this year and flirted with the first no-hitter in BayBears’ history on July 29 during a 9-5 win over the Tennessee Smokies at Mobile’s Hank Aaron Stadium.

Barnette faced the minimum 19 batters through the first 6 1/3 innings and didn’t allow a hit until Matt Matulia ripped a clean single to center field in the seventh inning.

“I definitely knew what was going on, but I tried not to think about it,” Barnette told the Alabama Press-Register. “I was trying to concentrate on the hitters and just make good pitches. “(Tennessee) is a hard swinging team. They hit the ball hard and it was right at the defense several times. It was fun while it lasted. After the first hit, I started to wear down.”

It was the continuation of a solid two and a half months for Barnette, who is now 5-2 with a 2.68 earned-run average since May 17. He has won four of his last five decisions after starting the season 3-6.

“Early on, not a whole lot was working for me, but my defense was spectacular behind me,” Barnette said. “As the game went on, I was hitting spots, my change was working well and my catcher, John Hester, was calling a great game.”

Barnette, who attended Central Arizona Community College and Arizona State University after TJ, is currently 8-7 overall with a 4.03 earned-run average. He leads Mobile with 111 strikeouts in 129 innings pitched. he has started 23 games and given up only 128 hits and 35 walks.

Barnette was drafted in the 10th round of the 2006 Major League Baseball draft.

Last season, Barnette went 8-8 with a 3.60 ERA for Class A South Bend (Ind.) of the Midwest League in 2007. He said the jump in class to Double-A tested him early on.

“Coming here was a big adjustment,” Barnette said. “The hitters here are good. I was leaving the ball in the zone and getting hit pretty good. But I had to take it in stride, bear down and work hard. I didn’t give up or get down on myself. I’ve just been working hard. It has been a great learning experience.”

Barnette was rated as the Diamondbacks’ No. 44 prospect by www.futurebacks.com before the 2008 season after leading the Midwest League in innings pitched last year and making the all-star team.

Brad Reid — Just over a month into his professional baseball career, Brad Reid has learned one thing: you need to have a short memory to succeed as a pitcher in pro ball.

After appearing in only one game with the Peoria Mariners of the Arizona League, the Seattle Mariners’ rookie team, Reid was called up to the High Desert Mavericks, the M’s Class A advanced team in the California League.

And when called on for his first appearance, the right-hander nervously made his way to the mound, facing the league’s then-top home run hitter, Rancho Cucamonga’s Mark Trumbo.

Reid was about to get his first big league lesson in memory loss.

“The second pitch, I left one over the middle of the plate and he hit a home run,” Reid said. “But I bounced back from it and got out of the inning. I just know now that I’m at a high level, and that sort of thing is going to happen.”

A change of pace from his days at Bellevue Community College, where that sort of thing didn’t happen often, a big reason why the Mariners took a chance on the 6-foot-1 pitcher, selecting him with the 912th overall pick in last month’s draft.

Reid, a Decatur High School graduate, had a stellar career at BCC and was a two-time All-NWAACC First Team selection as a starting pitcher. After posting a 0.19 ERA as a freshman in 2006 and helping BCC win the NWAACC championship, Reid signed on with the Oregon State Beavers before returning a year later to again play for the Bulldogs. He finished this season with a 7-1 record and posted a 0.56 ERA, gaining the interest of the Mariners.

“I really encouraged Brad to take the opportunity to sign with the Mariners after getting drafted,” said BCC head coach Mark Yoshino. “Physically, I didn’t think he’d be served by going to school and taking a chance of not getting drafted again. He was ready and had two years of experience of pitching in big games.”

Reid’s work ethic sets him apart, Yoshino said, and that’s needed to survive in the minor leagues. And it’s also the reason why the Mariners have been aggressive in moving Reid quickly through their system.

When Reid got the call to High Desert, he was told he’d be with the team for only 72 hours because of an injury to another player.

Instead, he stuck with the club for almost two weeks, appearing in relief in six games. While it wasn’t the most successful stint (he allowed 19 hits and 12 runs in 7.1 innings pitched and ended with a 14.73 ERA), the time spent with the club was more about learning the ropes, Reid said, rather than results.

“When the older guys throw bullpen or just play catch, I try to watch the best I can,” said Reid, who, at 20, was the second-youngest player on the Maverick’s roster, behind only highly-regarded prospect Carlos Triunfel.

“I just try to watch them and make myself better. The experience level here is just so much higher.”

It’s true: the California League is a long-season Class A Advanced League, where teams have been playing since April 1, the same as the big league clubs. Traditionally, the California League is a hitters league, Yoshino said, and for Reid to have been called up at all is huge.

“The hitters in that league are very advanced,” Yoshino said. “What he is going through now is new to him. He never really had to deal with any adversity at our level; his track record and success was almost flawless. He’s got the pitches and the physical stuff. That’s what the Mariners saw in him. He’s got what it takes.”

After an appearance against Modesto on July 12, Reid was sent to Everett of the Northwest League, the Mariners’ Class A team. Reid has appeared in seven games in relief. He is 0-1 with a 6.30 ERA in 10 innings.

“I’m getting paid to play baseball and there is nothing better than that,” Reid said. “I remember being at home and listening to the draft on the internet, and now I’m here. It definitely hasn’t kicked in yet.”

Travis Ishikawa — The Federal Way High School graduate might be back in the big leagues next month if he keeps swinging the bat like he currently is.

The first baseman is excelling for the Class AAA Fresno Bees of the Pacific Coast League. Since joining the affiliate of the San Francisco Giants on June 20, Ishikawa is hitting .295 with 13 home runs and 39 RBIs in 146 plate appearances. He started the season at Class AA Connecticut before getting the call up.

Of his 43 hits, 32 have gone for extra bases at Fresno. In the past four games, he’s been on fire: 9 for 16 with two doubles, a triple, four homers and nine RBIs. His slugging percentage of .713 entering Monday’s game leads the team by a large margin.

“He’s rejuvenated his career and drawn interest in himself,” Grizzlies manager Dan Rohn told the Fresno Bee.

Once the Giants’ first baseman of the future, Ishikawa made a brief appearance in the majors in 2006, four years after San Francisco took him in the 21st round of the draft.

In his 12 Major League games, Ishikawa hit an impressive .292 in 24 at bats. He also scored one run, had three doubles, a triple and four RBIs.

Since then, injuries and low averages have kept him at Class AA Connecticut and Class A San Jose.

Last year, the left-handed 24-year-old hit .243 in 104 games. Ishikawa scored 52 runs, had 18 doubles, two triples, 16 home runs and 51 RBIs. He also had 126 strikeouts.

“It started to get tough and I let the minute things affect me. My focus wouldn’t be on pitches,” Ishikawa told the Bee. “There was a time when I thought, maybe, the Giants were losing interest in me.”

Ishikawa’s combined Connecticut and Fresno numbers this year include a .290 average, 21 homers and 87 RBIs. His best previous season was 2005 at Class-A San Jose when he hit .282 with 22 homers and 79 RBIs.

Ishikawa is on the Giants’ 40-man roster. If he keeps up his current pace, he’s likely destined to return to the majors in September when rosters expand.

“Everybody needs a guy like him,” Rohn said. “The better the numbers, the better his chances as a commodity for us and the other 29 clubs.”

Shea McFeely — The Federal Way High School graduate is currently playing for the Lincoln (Neb.) Saltdogs. The third baseman is hitting .273 with 14 doubles, two home runs and 23 RBIs.

The Saltdogs are a member of the North Division of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball.

McFeely was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006 after playing three seasons at Oregon State. He played two years in Arizona’s system, before being released before the 2008 season.

Joel Willits can be reached at 425-453-5045 or at jwillits@reporternewspapers.com.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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