There are some interesting parallels between Red Sox prospect Matt Barnes and seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens. Like Clemens more than a quarter of a century ago, Barnes may be on the fast track to Fenway Park.
How’s this for an initial comparison? Clemens was righthanded, 6-4, and 205 pounds when the Red Sox drafted him in the first round with the 19th pick overall out of the University of Texas in 1983.
Barnes is also righthanded, 6-4, and 205 pounds. The Red Sox took him in the first round of last year’s draft with the 19th pick overall out of UConn.
Clemens was a power pitcher.
Barnes is a power pitcher.
The 21-year-old Clemens began his pro career in 1983 in advanced Class A ball with Winter Haven in the Florida State League, and he was dominant. Clemens went 3-1 in four starts with a 1.24 ERA. He gave up 22 hits and struck out 36 in 29 innings and did not walk a batter.
After that sensational debut in Winter Haven, the Red Sox quickly promoted Clemens to New Britain in the Class AA Eastern League, where he was nearly as overpowering. Clemens went 4-1 with a 1.38 ERA in seven starts, fanning 59 batters in 52 innings while giving up just 31 hits and 12 walks.
Clemens began the 1984 season at Class AAA Pawtucket, where he went 2-3 with a 1.93 ERA in seven games and struck out 50 batters in 46 2/3 innings while giving up 39 hits and 14 walks.
Clemens had pitched just 18 minor-league games, going 9-5 with a 1.55 ERA and 145 strikeouts in 127 2/3 innings when the Red Sox called him up to the majors on May 11. He went 9-4 with a 4.32 ERA as a rookie, his season being cut short when he tore the flexor tendon in his forearm at the end of August. Surgery was required, and Clemens missed much of the 1985 season.
But he came back stronger than ever the following spring, set a major-league record by fanning 20 Seattle Mariners on Apr. 29, and went 24-4 with a 2.48 ERA and won both the Cy Young and MVP Awards while leading the Red Sox into the World Series. The rest, as they say, is history.
Barnes, who won the Big East’s pitching Triple Crown last spring, seems to be following the same track. He didn’t sign with the Red Sox until the deadline last August after going 11-5 with a 1.93 ERA  and 117 strikeouts (with just 33 walks) in 121 innings at UConn, so he didn’t pitch at all last summer. He did work out with the Lowell Spinners for the last couple of weeks of the New York-Penn League season.
The Red Sox started Barnes this year at low Class A Greenville in the Sally League, and he was virtually untouchable, pitching 26 2/3 innings before being charged with his first and only run. (He was out of the game when a reliever allowed the inherited runner to score.)
In five starts with Greenville, the 21-year-old Barnes was 2-0 with a microscopic 0.34 ERA, walking just four batters and giving up 12 hits in 26 2/3 innings and striking out 42.
Clemens needed only four starts to win his first promotion in 1983, Barnes was promoted after five to advanced Class A Salem in the Carolina League today.
Former Spinners manager Carlos Febles, who managed Barnes at Greenville, told the Hartford Courant: “He keeps throwing like this and he’s going to be at Fenway in a year or two.”
Who knows? Only time will tell, but Red Sox history just may be repeating itself.

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