AJ Barnes looks to build on baseball career as a Rebel

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, March 8, 2023

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Chambers Academy senior third baseman AJ Barnes transferred from Auburn High for his senior year, and he’ll look to finish his high school career on a strong note as one of the Rebels’ leaders.

Barnes had a windy path from Auburn to the Rebels.

“After my tenth grade year at Auburn High, I made the team,” Barnes said. “I came off of knee surgery and worked my butt off to make the comeback. I worked all summer going into my junior year, and I didn’t make the team that year.”

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Barnes didn’t give up despite not making the team.

“I knew I wanted to go all the way with baseball,” Barnes said.

“I continued to work every day in the summer. I played travel ball. I worked out the rest of the school year and did online school. I played for Five Star out of LaGrange, and I got some playing time. I tried out again for my senior year, but I fell short again. From then on, I had to open my options up. I looked at Lee-Scott. I visited Springwood. Chambers was top two on my list from the get go because I have friends here. I heard about the program, and I really liked it. All glory to God. Coach Dillon [Nessmith] got me here as soon as possible. I loved it from the first day, and I’m glad to be here.”

Barnes has been an offensive force for the Rebels this season with two home runs.

Barnes opened the season with a three hit and three RBI game against Southern Prep, and it was clear from there his talent would take the Rebels far.

Barnes followed up with a two run game in Chambers Academy’s 12-0 win over Ezekiel Academy.

Barnes earned his first home run of the season in the top of the seventh inning against Edgewood Academy on Feb. 27.

That home run sealed the win for the Rebels.

He earned his second home run of the season with a bomber in the top of the first against rival Springwood.

Barnes is glad to be hitting bombs again.

“It feels great,” Barnes said.

“I’ve given 110% in everything I do, even off the baseball field. I’ve been hitting home runs since an early age. I hit my first one when I was eight or nine. I’ve been working to be the best baseball player and student I can be. The season is going great right now. I still have a lot of things I need to improve on and grow as a baseball player and a young man. I’m trying to get to college ball and reach my goals this season. I’m doing a good job of being consistent in everything I do.”

Barnes doesn’t have any college offers yet, but he’s been in contact with some college coaches.

“I have a couple schools that are going to come and watch me,” Barnes said.

“I have to keep being consistent in everything I do on the field. I need to work on hitting, throwing, not trying to be the standout player but doing the little things at the right time. I have to text coaches as much as I can, and know I can do that.”

Barnes stands at 6’3”, and he feels like that is his biggest draw for college coaches.

“My baseball IQ is good. I can hit,” Barnes said.

“I’m not just a single position player. I play third. I play first. I pitch. I can play the outfield too. I can play all around if I really had to. I can bring a lot to a college team. I work hard too.”

Barnes mentioned teams want him to play third base because of his size.

This season Barnes wants to lead the Rebels to a state championship.

“My goal is to know that I gave it all that I could whatever the outcome is just knowing that I had fun and gave it my all this season. I’m looking forward to the rest of this season, and I’m looking forward to pulling home a state championship.”

Even if Barnes can’t find a home at the next level, he still plans to go to school and pursue a degree.

“I don’t know where I’ll go to school, but I want to get my degree in either kinesiology or engineering. My top school is Tennessee. I’ve had my eyes on Tennessee or Vanderbilt since I was a young kid. I like the environment. I like what I’ve seen from their programs over the past few years. The people and the classes look nice and respectable.”