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Albertus Barber Takes Unusual Route To Pro Ball

Albertus Barber pitched at three colleges, often poorly, sustained a fracture in his pitching arm, saw a huge dip in velocity and was on nobody’s radar when the Phillies signed him for $1,000 as a nondrafted free agent from Oklahoma Baptist in 2019.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound righthanded reliever opened eyes that summer by striking out 23 batters and allowing just two runs in 20.2 innings between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, the short-season New York-Penn League and the Low-A South Atlantic League.

The Phillies were looking forward to seeing more of Barber before the coronavirus pandemic shut things down in 2020. They monitored his bullpen work remotely throughout the summer and remained impressed.

“He was explosive,” assistant general manager Bryan Minniti said.

Barber credits his signing and emergence to the work he did over 18 months at Driveline Baseball. He financed his way through the program by working as a janitor at the facility and crashing on a mattress in the kitchen at the apartment shared by several Driveline instructors.

“Cleaning toilets was terrible, but business is business,” Barber said.

The 25-year-old was ill when he first threw for Phillies scout Zach Friedman in November 2018. Barber’s first pitch was 95 mph. He excused himself halfway through the session, threw up in a garbage can and returned with another 95 mph fastball. Barber topped out at 96 that day and showed a legitimate slider. Friedman liked the stuff and the moxie.

“He’s a kid who will do whatever it takes,” Friedman said.

Barber, an Oklahoma native, needs to move quickly but said he’s “ready to face the wolves” in what might be his most important season.

“People might say, 'He’s older. He’s facility-made. He’s a carnival arm,' ” Minniti said. “The odds are incredibly stacked against guys like this. But let’s just let ‘er rip and see where it goes. I could see him progressing quickly this season and from there, you never know.”

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