Daric Barton Adjusting Well

There's a lot of talk going around about Stockton Ports first baseman Daric Barton. Baseball Prospectus predicted he "very well could be one of the best hitters in baseball - at any position - by the end of the decade." Billy Beane said he has "the best pure bat in the minor leagues." However, most of the talk isn't about who Daric Barton is, it's about who he was traded for. Daniel Ray caught up with Barton to get his thoughts on the trade and on how he is adjusting to his new organization.

The Ports' 19-year-old slugger was the key prospect for the Oakland Athletics when they shipped star pitcher Mark Mulder to St. Louis. Barton, who finished last season with the Cardinals' Class A team in Peoria, isn't feeling any pressure playing for the A's organization after being traded for a fan favorite.

"I think they traded for me for a reason," Barton said. "I'm just trying to do what I can do best and try to repeat what I've done in the past, and that's just getting on base, getting walks, and hitting the ball. So I don't feel too much pressure."

Barton, who is batting .283 with 7 homers and a .410 OBP with the Ports, is adjusting well to the Athletic organization's style.

"I think they practice more of a new approach here. It's more of a patient organization that's well known throughout the league. It fits the way I play and the way I hit so I think it's a good fit," Barton said.

Daric was a high school star in his hometown of Huntington Beach, CA, and was drafted in the first round of the 2003 draft by the Cardinals. Barton, who had already played a high school playoff game earlier in the day, was with a bunch of friends when he got the call from St Louis.

"It was hard to hear [the phone call]. Everyone was going crazy so I couldn't really hear it. It was shocking to hear and realizing that I was drafted in the first round - or just being drafted overall - was a big shock to me," Barton said.

The 19 year-old slugger has made many transitions since coming into the minors from high school, from adjusting to the number of games to adjusting to a new position.

"I think the thing that was tough for me was playing everyday rather than a few days a week," Barton said.

"Playing every day was rough, you've got to keep your body in shape and you have to stay healthy and work out a lot more than you did in high school."

While he was in high school and when he was in Peoria, Barton played as a left-handed hitting catcher. Upon arriving in the A's organization, he was switched to first base. The position switch has been an adjustment for Barton.

"I loved catching, but that's not what I'm going to do here so I have to make the most of it. I have to play first base and gain as much knowledge as I can from my surroundings and the people trying to help me out. Hopefully I'll love first base as much as I loved catching," Barton said.

Injuries also set Daric back at the start of this year. Barton missed some of the spring with elbow troubles and an appendectomy, and after a slow start to begin the season, he finally believes he's back to normal.

"My health is good. I've had little tweaks here and there but it really hasn't kept me out of the lineup. I think I've missed only one game this year and look forward to playing the rest of them," Barton said.

Despite his injuries, Barton had memorable spring training. Daric joined the Athletics in the major league camp and learned a great deal.

"Oh, it was awesome playing with all those guys that have been in the league for 5 to 10 years. There's nothing better than doing that," Barton said.

"You know, you grow up watching those guys, you just hope one day you can play with them. I was fortunate enough to be there and play with them, so I took advantage of every minute and learned as much as I could."

Barton hopes to join "those guys" in the future, but his goals also are set in the near-future helping out the Ports.

"I think one of my goals is to succeed in whatever I do and that takes a lot of hard work and determination. My on-base percentage is a big factor I'd like to focus on and that's getting a lot of walks and being selective up there and hitting a certain pitch which you want to hit," Barton said.

"I'm focused on just hitting the ball hard. You can't control your hits but you can hit it hard and hope for the best."

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