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Not all top prospects turn out to be major league contributors, but Kevin Barker spent 16 years trying.
After over 500 installments spanning two seasons and a full offseason, there are some days where I've exhausted all of the available content for Today In Brewer History. Brewers A-Z is a supplemental feature to help fill in the gaps in my historical calendar. You can see past installments in the series in its special section.
Think back, for a moment, to 1998. The Brewers limped to a 74-88 season at least partially because of the fact that their first basemen (John Jaha, Mark Loretta, Dave Nilsson and Bob Hamelin most notably) combined to hit just .242/.345/.399 on the season, coming in with the 14th best OPS in the NL. But hope was on the horizon.
That hope came in the form of 1996 third round pick Kevin Barker, who had been good enough in the minors to convince Bowman to make him a 1998 rookie card, #418 in that season's set:
Unfortunately, Barker was also caught slack-jawed by major league pitching. He hit .253/.341/.359 over just 78 games as a Brewer between 1999-2000, hitting just five home runs over 249 plate appearances.
The Brewers returned Barker to AAA in 2000, and his career wandered a bit from there: He eventually made it back to the big leagues for cups of coffee with the 2002 Padres (seven games), 2006 Blue Jays (12 games) and 2009 Reds (29 games).
Despite having appeared in less than 150 major league games, Barker has had a long professional career: He's played over 1700 minor league games during his 16 seasons, including 2010 and 2011 in Mexico.
- Wisconsin Timber Rattler Stephen Peterson, who turns 25.
- 1995-96 Brewer Brian Givens, who turns 47.
- Seattle Pilot Jim Gosger, who turns 70.
- 1961-65 Milwaukee Brave Mack Jones, who would have turned 74.
Today is also the third anniversary of a 2009 trade that sent J.J. Hardy to the Twins in exchange for Carlos Gomez and looks a little better each day lately. We covered that event in Today In Brewer History last year.