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Charlotte Knights: Pitcher Barnette overshadowed but successful in debut

By Seth Lakso
Correspondent
0819knights_02
David T. Foster, III - dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
Former UNC Charlotte pitcher Tyler Barnette’s phone has been buzzing with ticket requests since the news of his promotion to the Charlotte Knights. He’s expecting a cheering section of 40-plus at BB&T BallPark this weekend when the Knights return to town to host Norfolk.

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Lost in the madness of Carlos Rodon’s promotion and subsequent debut with the Charlotte Knights has been the arrival of another talented local arm in uptown Charlotte.

While Rodon led the N.C. State Wolfpack to a College World Series and went on to be selected by the White Sox third overall in this year’s Major League draft, Tyler Barnette – a 14th-round selection in the 2013 draft out of UNC Charlotte – has taken a slightly different path.

“I wish there had been a camera on me so I could have seen my face,” Barnette said when asked what it was like to get the news he had been promoted from Class A Kannapolis to the Knights this past Sunday.

“Pete Rose Jr. (the Intimidators’ manager) called me in the office and just said, ‘Hey, you’re going to Charlotte,’ ” Barnett said. “I was very shocked, but it was a good time.”

A native of Hickory, Barnette, 22, was 2-8 with one save and a 5.08 ERA for the Intimidators in 25 games (11 starts) this season. However, since transitioning to the bullpen, Barnett had posted a 1.51 ERA in 14 appearances (35.2 innings pitched) with 29 strikeouts.

“I feel like I’ve had more success because in relief you just go out there and throw what you’ve got and give it 100 percent every time for a couple innings, and then you’re good,” said Barnette, whose fastball was clocked as high a 96 mph in his Knights debut in Durham on Sunday.

Scouts had rated the right-hander’s slider as a plus pitch, and it’s only played up with his added velocity.

“There were definitely some butterflies on Sunday,” said Barnette, who pitched two perfect innings of relief with one strikeout in Durham. “But if you don’t have butterflies in this game, you shouldn’t be playing it. It’s definitely a good thing, and I was very excited.”

Prior to being drafted, Barnett compiled an 18-8 record with a 3.37 ERA in three seasons for the Charlotte 49ers. In 2011, he was named Atlantic-10 Freshman of the Year after tying for second in the conference with nine wins and finishing third with a 2.29 ERA.

Not surprisingly, Barnette’s phone has been buzzing with ticket requests since the news of his promotion. He’s expecting a cheering section of 40-plus at BB&T BallPark this weekend when the Knights return to town to host Norfolk.

“I feel like it’s going to beneficial for me,” Barnette said when asked if the large crowd would mean added pressure. “I’m going to have a lot of people supporting me and a lot of people wanting me to do well, so I have that on my side. I don’t think it’s going to add any pressure at all.”

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