Veteran Carlos Pena is obviously one of the leaders of the youthful Astros, many who have less than three years experience in the big leagues.
Perhaps surprisingly, another leader on the team is a rookie. Center fielder Brandon Barnes has emerged this season not only as a starter but someone whom his teammates look up to.
“I try to lead by example,” said Barnes. “Just go out there and play hard and play the way the game is supposed to be played.
“Whether I lead by that way or if I lead by trying to pump the team up and go out and do what I do. I go out there and play hard and not giving up.”
Players look up to Barnes for a number of reasons. His play in center field has been outstanding. He’s constantly making a circus catch and appearing on the highlight shows. The 27-year-old Barnes has also earned respect from his teammates by the challenges he overcame riding up through the Houston farm system.
The 2013 season is Barnes’ ninth with the Astros organization since being drafted by the club in the sixth round of the 2005 draft. He saw his first major league action last year, making 24 starts and appearing in 37 games in the outfield.
Barnes paid his dues getting to the Astros. His minor league stops were Greeneville (Rookie), Tri-City (Class A), Lexington (Class A), Lancaster (Class A), Corpus Christi (Double A) and Oklahoma City (Triple A).
“I’ve gotten a lot of respect for that,” said Barnes, who is hitting .247 and his nine stolen bases are second-most on the club. “I want people to look at me as a major leaguer now, and they do, and they respect you for that.
“I’m just trying to build myself into an everyday major league player. And the only way I can do that is by the support of my coaching staff and my team, and just go out there and having fun and play hard.”
This is Barnes’ first full season in the major leagues but he plays like a veteran. He’s passionate about the game and has that old school mentality. He leads by example and when needed, can be a vocal leader.
“I am at points,” said Barnes. “Not any way negative like trying to get on people or anything. I’m more of a let’s go, let’s do this, let’s have fun.
“When it is game time I’m out there trying to have fun and pump the guys up and lighten it up. That’s what I try to do most of the time.”