Barth Set to Pick Up Where He Left Off in 2019

Wherever Jordan Barth has gone, he has proven to be a winner. 

From becoming a World Champion in racquetball to winning a National Championship in baseball at Augustana University, he helped bring a championship mindset to the St. Cloud Rox in 2019. 

One of the most accomplished players in franchise history, Barth looks to bring even more accolades to St. Cloud as he returns for a second consecutive year. 

Before Baseball, There Was Racquetball 

Barth has always been known for being a dynamic dual-sport athlete, dating back to playing racquetball when he was a kid. By the age of ten, he was competing at the Lewis Drug Pro-Am, a USA Racquetball Tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Barth would go on to compete internationally and claim three world titles in the sport. 

By the age of 14, he claimed a Gold Medal in the Boys 14 Singles at the IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships in Colombia. The Cold Spring, Minnesota native had made a name for himself across the globe. 

Despite baseball being his primary focus, Barth is still ranked No. 43 in the country in racquetball singles as of March 31. He’s 29-4 in his last 33 matches and is currently No. 3 in the Minnesota singles rankings. According to USA Racquetball’s website, Barth’s skill percentage ranks in the 99th percentile of singles.

However, as talented as Barth is at racquetball, that didn’t stop him from playing baseball, the other sport that he loves.

After being a three-year varsity starter, Barth hit .415 in his final season and drove in 26 runs at Rocori High School. His biggest statistical improvement was from his sophomore to junior year, where his batting average jumped from .290 to .416. He led Rocori to a Minnesota State Baseball appearance and collected numerous awards, including an All-State nomination. This led the racquetball and baseball standout to select Augustana University as his college destination. 

“When I [started] talking to his high school coach (Jeff Illies) about him, we were talking just about his baseball,” Augustana coach Tim Huber said in a 2017 conversation with Mick Garry of the Argus Leader. “Then he said, ‘I don’t know if you’ve heard but he’s one of the top racquetball players in the world in his age group.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ He’s got really good hands in the field and good hands at the plate. … I think a lot of that comes from his racquetball.”

The Division-II program in Sioux Falls, South Dakota quickly became a place where Barth could make an impact.

From Rocori HS to Augustana University

The transition from high school to collegiate athletics can be one of the most difficult adjustments a student-athlete can make. Players might go from being the top athlete in their school or city to a situation where they might not play at all in year one. This was not the case for Barth, who became a key contributor to the 2018 Augustana Vikings squad that turned into one of the best baseball teams in program history.

In his freshman season in 2018, the Vikings won its first 12 games of the season and established itself as one of the best teams in the NSIC. The school won a program-best 59 games and claimed its first-ever National Championship.

“It’s just amazing,” Barth said. “From a team that didn’t really know how good we were going to be, to getting hot at the right time and making a run and winning the whole thing, it was an awesome experience.”

Barth was a key contributor to the success of that team, hitting .362 and starting all 59 games. He drove in 61 runs, had 221 at-bats (3rd most in a single-season at Augustana University) and recorded 384 putouts, the most ever in a single-season. His record-breaking numbers helped Barth win the coveted NSIC Freshman of the Year Award. In the NSIC tournament, his contributions were so great that he was awarded All-Tournament Team MVP as a freshman.

Following the National Championship, Barth found a way to contribute at a higher level. In the spring of 2019, the sophomore was named an NCBWA Third-Team All-American after hitting .422 and recording 65 hits, despite missing 19 games due to an injury.

From World Championships in racquetball to a National Championships in baseball, Barth was ready to seize his next opportunity when he arrived in St. Cloud in the summer of 2019.

From Fan in the Stands To Rox Star

Jordan Barth can remember watching the St. Cloud Rox play at Joe Faber Field as a kid. Last year, in his early 20s, he got a chance to return home and play on that diamond with a bright red ROX logo striped across his chest.

He came prepared too, being one of the first players to arrive at an organization meeting two days before the season began. 

On May 26, 2019, Barth was on Field Manager Augie Rodriguez’s lineup card as the starting third baseman to open the season in Rochester. He would then be penciled into the starting lineup for the next 73 Rox games, eventually setting a franchise record for most games played in a season.

Just like he did at Augustana in his freshman season, Barth did not miss a single game for the Rox in 2019. He never wanted a day off to rest his body and never faced an injury. He didn’t want to miss any action.

Early in the season, Barth was a key contributor to the early success of the team that finished second in the first half of the Great Plains West Division. He hit .331 and was near the top of the Northwoods League in hits. Soon after that, he became good friends with Mercer outfielder Garett Delano and the two became a powerful tandem in the Rox batting order. 

Barth and Delano had a friendly competition amongst each other of who had the most home runs and RBIs on the team throughout last season. They both jokingly accuse the other of being the one who started it. Delano ended up setting the Rox single-season RBI record with 51, while Barth finished just short with 49. 

However, it was Barth who notched three more Rox single-season records last year. In addition to his record of games played, Barth shattered the Rox doubles record, which was previously 21, with 25 doubles and set the record for hits in a season with 99. He also notched 144 total bases throughout the 2019 campaign.

“It means a lot,” Barth said. “It’s truly an honor.”

It was one of the all-time best single seasons that any player in Rox history has ever had.

By the end of the season, Barth had helped lead the Rox to a second-half championship of the Great Plains West Division. The squad won over 40 games and at one point won 15 of 17 games at the midpoint of the season. St. Cloud secured yet another spot in the Northwoods League playoffs. 

Just like he did with racquetball and baseball at Augustana, Barth left his mark with the Rox in 2019.

https://twitter.com/StCloudRox/status/1157811821094592513

Barth Set to Return in 2020 to St. Cloud

Coming off of a record-breaking season in 2019, Jordan Barth will be back in a Rox uniform in the summer of 2020. With many returning players and talented additions to the roster, Barth and his teammates are hungry to deliver another Northwoods League championship to the Rock Pile.

“I’m so excited to be back,” Barth said. “[Those] Friday and Saturday night home games, nothing gets better than that. You can’t beat that on a summer night.”

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