The Cleveland Indians added two more to the depth pool on Saturday, bringing back free agent outfielder Brandon Barnes and signing right-hander Brooks Pounders on minor league deals.
The contracts include invitations to spring training at Goodyear, Arizona, with the club in February.
Barnes returns to the Indians organization for the second straight season. He spent the majority of the year with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, where he represented the home town club in the level’s All-Star Game, and later got a September call-up with the Tribe.
The 32-year-old made his return to the Majors for the first time since 2016 (while with the Colorado Rockies), serving primarily as a late inning defensive replacement and pinch-runner. He worked in 19 September games for the Indians (two starts), logging 21 plate appearances and 60 1/3 defensive innings (including two at second base for the first time in his big league career). He had five hits, including a home run in one of those starting efforts, and drove in a pair of runs, putting up a .263/.333/.421 slash line in his limited body of work.
He put up a productive season in the minors for the Clippers, hitting .273 with a .347 on-base percentage and a .444 slugging mark with 39 doubles, two triples, 14 homers, 81 RBI, and 19 stolen bases (his most since 2012). The doubles and RBI matched his previous minor league bests, set during his days in the Houston Astros farm system. He drew a career-high 47 walks in 2018, but also struck out a career-worst 152 times.
Barnes began his pro career with the Astros in 2005 after he was selected in the sixth round out of Cypress College in California. He debuted for the club in 2012 and spent all of 2013 on the Houston roster, playing in a career-high 136 games, before he was traded to the Colorado Rockies. He worked all over the outfield again for the Rockies in 2014, hitting .257 while taking the field 132 times. He played in 106 games for Colorado in 2015 and 48 in 2016, spending time at Triple-A in each of those seasons. He signed a minor league contract with the Miami Marlins in 2017 and put up a steady showing there, but he spent the year on the farm while ending a streak of five straight seasons of big league activity.
Across 12 different seasons of minor league action (1,074 games), Barnes has put together a .263/.325/.436 line. In 484 games in parts of six MLB campaigns, he owns a .242/.290/.357 slash.
Pounders, a 28-year-old 6’5” right-hander, spent last season in the Colorado Rockies organization. Like Barnes, he spent the bulk of his campaign in the minors, but he did log 14 games of work for the parent club in his third career stint in the Majors, posting a 0-1 record with a 7.63 ERA and a 1.76 WHIP in 15 1/3 innings of work. He did average 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings in that stretch, but suffered from a lot of contact (25 hits but just two walks in his time on the mound).
While pitching for the Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque, Pounders went 2-3 with a 3.48 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 26 relief appearances. He averaged 10.5 strikeouts and 2.9 walks per nine innings while showing a much better ability to limit contact during his 31 innings in the Pacific Coast League.
Pounders was a second round draft pick in 2009 by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of high school. He was traded to Kansas City in the offseason following the 2011 season and spent the majority of his career there. He debuted with the Royals in 2016, working in 13 games in relief, but was traded after the season to the Los Angeles Angels. He pitched 11 times for the Halos in 2017 around work at Triple-A Salt Lake City.
In ten seasons of minor league activity, Pounders has posted a 3.66 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP with 8.2 hits, 8.6 strikeouts, and 3.1 walks per nine innings. The results have not translated at the Major League level, however, as he owns an 8.92 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP with 14.3 hits, 9.9 strikeouts, and 2.3 walks per nine innings.
Barnes will get a look in the paper-thin outfield currently represented on the Indians roster this spring, while Pounders will have a shot to insert himself into the equally discouraging bullpen mix.
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