Q&A with Darwin Barney

Darwin Barney's pro career is less than a week old, but the infielder and 2007 fourth round Cubs draft pick is already off to a good start.

Making only his second start since signing with the Cubs this week, the 21-year-old Barney picked up five hits at the plate for the Mesa Cubs of the Arizona Rookie League on Thursday as the Cubs defeated the Angels, 14-13.

Barney, a shortstop and Oregon State alumnus, was a catalyst on the Beavers' back-to-back College World Series championship clubs the past two years, batting .330 in 66 games with the team his sophomore season in 2006, and .302 in 67 games this past season.

Barney spoke to InsideTheIvy.com after his perfect 5-for-5 day at the plate.

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Nice way to start your pro career. Just one of those days?

Darwin Barney: I guess so. (Wednesday) was my first game in two weeks and I didn't really swing that much or work out baseball-wise in between now and then. It was something different; you don't really expect it.

Having been a member of a College World Series championship program in back-to-back years, was the second time around any different for you?

Darwin Barney: It was my third time there (in Omaha). Once we made the post-season and got past Virginia, we felt we were supposed to be there. We had some veterans and some young guys, so we had those bright-eyed kids that had been dreaming to go their whole lives. Then we had us, our core group of guys who had been there and had seen it and experienced it. I think it all minced together really well and our chemistry helped out.

How difficult was it to choose between the Cubs and another year in college?

Darwin Barney: It was tough, because they're going to be good. Having a chance to play next to Joey Wong for another year, there's nothing wrong with that. They have four or five returning outfielders, four returning infielders, plus their catcher is going to be there and they have a Friday starter. They're going to be tough, so that was the hardest part: walking away from such a young team that I felt such a part of.

When you've won two College World Series' as a player and have played in three of them, do you ever feel that you've accomplished as much as you can at that level?

Darwin Barney: The reality of it is, what we did was pretty special. It's so tough to even make the field of 64 in baseball because there are so many clubs and universities that are just getting better and recruiting better. A lot of people, they saw how we went to the playoffs and how at times we kind of beat up on people and made it look easy. But it's not easy at all.

I don't really know how to explain what happened to us, but it's just something that you can't really take for granted. Getting to the playoffs is the first step and then winning that first game and trying to get through the four-team regional, it's not easy at all.

How much does that perseverance prepare you for the levels ahead of you now?

Darwin Barney: It really opens your eyes as to what you're playing the game for. If you're playing the game just for a living or for money, you're probably not going to go too far. So you just come out and try to have a good time and meet some people.

You know the teams aren't the same, and the chemistry is not going to be there with guys coming in and coming out. But you just go out and enjoy the opportunity you have to actually be at the ballpark every day whereas many people out there wish they could be doing the same thing.

As for your game (Thursday), what kind of pitches did you see and what exactly were you able to do with them?

Darwin Barney: I hit the ball well. I hit one over the left fielder's head and I had a line drive down the line. I had a line drive through the six hole and a line drive through the four hole. I kind of sprayed the ball around, but I just tried to keep the same approach that I had at the end of the season when I started swinging it. It's just a matter of not taking it so seriously or getting so pressured and just trying to hit the ball. You can't control where it goes, so I got lucky today.

We've seen the numbers you put up in college, but what kind of hitter do you project yourself as?

Darwin Barney: Well you know I'm a super power hitter. I think I'm projected to hit about 60 bombs a year in the big leagues. (laughs) No, I think that I'm a contact hitter. I'm a guy that they hope and expect not to strike out too much and put the ball in play, and make the defense make a play because I've got some speed. I project myself as a contact hitter that can come through and drive in some runs hopefully.

Have you had a chance to start working on some things in Arizona?

Darwin Barney: Not really. I've been here for four or five days and the first two, two and a half days, I was just doing my physical and my blood work, and just hanging out. When I finally got out here, you kind of just jump right in and start taking groundballs, working out and taking some swings.

I wouldn't say we're working on anything in particular. I guess defensively the philosophies here are a little bit different than they are in college and it's something you have to adjust to if you want to move up in the system. That's pretty much what I'm working on.

Hitting approaches are all the same, the only difference is the bat. I feel good. I've always liked swinging a wood bat. It's just a matter of working with the defensive guy (Bobby Dickerson) that's here and trying to get better and become the type of player that they want me to be.

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