The Royals have a doubleheader today against the Blue Jays, one of a number of double-dips they’ll have this year due to all the postponements. MLB allows them to call up a 26th man to add to the roster for such an occasion, so the Royals have called up Scott Barlow from Triple-A Omaha. Barlow joined the Royals organization this past winter on a minor league deal.
Despite being in pro baseball since 2011, Barlow has yet to make his MLB debut (partly due a setback in having Tommy John surgery). He was drafted in the sixth round by the Dodgers at the age of 18 out of Golden Valley High School in Santa Clara, California.
Now Scott Barlow's projection isn't exciting itself, but I do think the Royals are going a smart way if this represents picking up lotto tickets rather than mediocre veterans to fill out back of staff. pic.twitter.com/hkAEj3MiVE— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) December 7, 2017
Barlow was ranked as the Royals 26th best prospect in the org by Baseball America this past winter.
Barlow thrives by mixing his pitches and locating them. His fastball sits 91-93 mph, touches 96, and plays up because of the elite extension he gets. His best secondary pitch is an average slider at 78-82 mph with cutting action and armside run, and he complements it with a slow 76-80 mph curveball that has a hump on it. Barlow gets good movement on a power 84-86 mph changeup that plays well off his fastball in going down in the other direction. Barlow profiles as a back-end starter, but some observers believe his stuff could tick up in shorter stints in the bullpen.
I had Barlow ranked much higher myself, spotting him as the 7th best prospect in the org on my top 25 list.
With how much extension he gets, I’d like to see Barlow out of the bullpen than as a starter, where possibly he could get a tick or two velocity on his fastball to touch 97/98 MPH, ditch his changeup and work off a slider and curve as secondaries.
This past winter, Barlow was also ranked as the best minor league free agent, per Chris Mitchell (formerly) of FanGraphs KATOH system.
To start the year, Barlow has had just an okay start. In his ten innings so far, he’s allowed just one earned run but has issues with walks, leading to a 5.41 FIP (vs a 0.90 ERA). The strikeouts have been there (sitting down nearly 28% of the batters he’s faced so far), so you can live with the walks a bit if that continues.
On a side note: let’s talk about how Barlow shaved his face and either found Jesus, bought a bunch of “hang in there” posters, or watched the Minions movie.
The Royals also have a doubleheader on Friday against the Tigers, so theoretically Barlow could return then. The rule requiring players spend ten days in the minors after being sent down does not apply to the “26th man”.