Aaron Barrett

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Aaron James Barrett

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Biographical Information[edit]

Relief pitcher Aaron Barrett made his major league debut with the Washington Nationals in 2014.

He was originally drafted out of high school by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 44th round of the 2006 amateur draft, but did not sign. The Minnesota Twins then took him in the 20th round of the 2008 amateur draft out of Wabash Valley College, but, again, he did not sign. In 2009, the Texas Rangers took him in the 27th round, again out of Wabash, but once again he did not ink a contract. The hurler finally signed after being drafted out of the University of Mississippi (where he transferred) by the Nationals as the first pick in the 9th round of the 2010 amateur draft, just ahead of pitcher Brandon Cumpton.

He began his professional career with the Vermont Lake Monsters in 2010, going 0-5 with a 9.43 ERA in 10 games (4 starts). He did show promise by striking out 25 batters in 21 innings. With the Auburn Doubledays in 2011, Barrett was 1-2 with 9 saves, 32 strikeouts and a 4.50 ERA in 19 appearances (26 2/3 innings). He was 3-2 with 17 saves, 73 strikeouts and a 2.09 ERA in 42 games (51 2/3 innings) split between the Hagerstown Suns (31 games, 16 saves, 2.60 ERA) and Potomac Nationals (11 games, a save, 1.06 ERA) in 2012. Due to his performance with Hagerstown, he was named to the South Atlantic League's Midseason All-Star squad. In 2013, he was 1-1 with 26 saves, 42 games finished, 69 strikeouts and a 2.15 ERA in 51 games (50 1/3 innings) for the Harrisburg Senators. He was named to the Eastern League Midseason All-Star team that year.

Barrett made the Nationals' Opening Day roster in 2014, and picked up the win in his debut on March 31. He pitched a scoreless bottom of the 9th in relief against the New York Mets with the Nats having just tied the score at 5. He struck out the first batter he faced, Omar Quintanilla, got Travis d'Arnaud on a fly ball and struck out Ruben Tejada before his teammates scored 4 runs in the top of the 10th, with Anthony Rendon hitting a three-run homer. Jerry Blevins allowed a two-run homer to David Wright in the bottom of the 10th, but Aaron was credited with the 9-7 win. Overall, he pitched 50 games, going 3-0, 2.66 in 40 2/3 innings. Aaron made a couple appearances in the postseason when the Nats faced off against the San Francisco Giants in the Division Series. In Game 2, on October 4, he was brought in to start the 12th inning of a 1-1 tie, and gave up a double to the only batter he faced, Hunter Pence, before being replaced by Jerry Blevins. Pence was stranded and the game was not decided until the 18th inning, on a solo homer by Brandon Belt off Tanner Roark. In Game 4, three days later, he came in to relieve Matt Thornton with a 2-2 tie in the 7th, one out and runners on first and second; he walked Pence to load the bases then threw a wild pitch that allowed Joe Panik to score what turned out to be the winning run, as the game ended 3-2. Manager Matt Williams was criticized for using a rookie in such a critical situation, a decision that cost the Nationals the series.

Barrett returned to pitch 40 games in 2015, with a record of 3-3, 4.60. His usage was even more limited, as he pitched a total of just 29 1/3 innings, being basically used as the right-handed version of a LOOGY. He did not pitch at all in 2016 and 2017 because of first Tommy John surgery, and then a broken humerus, one of the most devastating injuries a pitcher can suffer. He finally returned for 20 games back in Single A Auburn in 2018, where he went 2-0, 1.74. In 2019 he continued his long-haul comeback by pitching in Double A for Harrisburg. He did well again, with an ERA of 2.75 in 50 appearances and 31 saves as the team's closer. On September 3rd, he was called up to Washington and was extremely emotional when told the news, understandable given how much he had gone through. He made his return to a major league mound on September 7th, pitching a scoreless inning and striking out phenom Ronald Acuña in a 5-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves. Though he posted a 15.43 ERA in 3 appearances, he had hoed a long road back that most would never have endured.

His first appearance of the 2020 season also involved some epic work. He spent most of that year, once baseball resumed following the four-month break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, at the Nationals' alternative training site located in Fredericksburg, VA. In early September, he received a call from his wife Kendyl, who had stayed behind at the family home in Florida, that she was about to give birth. He rented a car and drove 13 hours to be present for the birth of his son, Paxtyn James, on September 10th. He then quickly turned around and immediately drove back to Fredericksburg, another 13 hours, and made it just in time for the next game, in which he pitched an inning, riding on fumes. After that exhausting journey, he had to go back to Florida a couple of days later, but this time to join the Nationals who were playing the Tampa Bay Rays, having taken the place of an injured Tanner Rainey on the roster. On September 15th, he threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings in a 6-1 loss, his first appearance in a fully competitive game in almost a year.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jessica Camerato: "Barrett makes 26-hr. odyssey for son's birth: Nats reliever drives from Virginia to Florida and back in time to pitch", mlb.com, September 16, 2020. [1]
  • Jamal Collier: "Barrett in tears after 1st appearance since '15: Righty strikes out Acuna in emotional return to Majors", mlb.com, September 8, 2019. [2]
  • Gabe Lacques: "'Why not me?' Aaron Barrett's emotional return to Nationals complete", USA Today, September 4, 2019. [3]

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