KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The news he had made the Opening Day roster was nothing short of a dream come true for Astros outfielder Brandon Barnes, a true grinder who nearly considered giving up baseball on more than one occasion.
Barnes, 26, spent eight years in the Astros' Minor League system, moving slowly and methodically through the organization without ever being labeled a top prospect. He persevered and made his Major League debut last year and played his way into a roster spot this spring.
"It's what I've wanted since I was 4, and it's here and I just have to keep working now," Barnes said. "I'm going to try not to cry [on Opening Day] and thank God and my family for pushing me. It's going to be a special moment for sure."
Barnes, drafted in the sixth round in 2006, nearly quit his first couple of years into pro ball when he struggled to hit .200 at rookie level Greeneville. He had more doubts about playing when he first went to Triple-A full time in 2011 and was overmatched.
"I struggled and I couldn't figure it out," he said. "I was having some mental issues and couldn't sleep at night because I knew I was meant to play this game and I couldn't figure it out. I called my pastor one night and we talked and prayed, and he told me God put me here for a purpose.
"I have a plan to show my faith through this platform of playing in the big leagues. When I stopped getting down about things and stopped thinking and went out there and played hard and had fun and played for family, that's when things really turned around."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.