Joe Barlow Emerges As Future Bullpen Candidate
The righthanded relief duo of DeMarcus Evans and Joe Barlow tormented the South Atlantic League in 2018.
How dominant were they for low Class A Hickory? Opponents batted .149 against Evans and just .118 against Barlow. Evans struck out 103 batters in 56 innings, and Barlow fanned 91 in 59 innings.
They throw hard. They are high spin-rate guys.
And the Rangers didn’t want them to lose any steam.
So Evans and Barlow moved on to the Arizona Fall League and back to Surprise, Ariz., where the Rangers' spring complex is located.The assignment means more innings against better hitters, but it also gives them a chance to channel all that worked so well for them during the season.
"They both are physical and strong, have huge swing-and-miss stuff, and they both had their mechanics sync up the second half as far as rhythm and timing,” assistant general manager Jayce Tingler said. "The idea to keep them going instead of having five months down was our idea.”
While Evans generates more buzz, the 23-year-old Barlow shouldn’t be overlooked, especially after his sparkling second half. In 32 innings, he struck out 52 while allowing just 11 hits and three earned runs. The Rangers drafted him in the 11th round in 2016 out of Salt Lake JC.
"In the first half I was struggling with some walks, and my mindset went from attacking hitters to not walking hitters," Barlow said. "I was just spending to much effort on not walking guys instead of attacking the zone. Once I realized I'm going to be a pitcher who walks guys sometimes and (that I need to) just attack guys, it turned around my season."
Barlow has put himself on the prospect map as an up-and-coming power arm in a system that has lacked power in the past. Now, they can count Barlow, Evans and lefty C.D. Pelham as bullpen prospects.
"He’ll sit 96-99 (mph) with a 12-to-6 breaking ball,” Tingler said of Barlow. "He had some walks early, but he settled those down. He was fairly dominant in the second half."
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• Catcher Jose Trevino said that he will be a full-go for spring training after he had surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder after a June injury. Trevino, who made his major league debut in June, was injured swinging at a high fastball shortly after returning to Double A Frisco. He is one of four catchers on the Rangers’ 40-man roster.
• The Rangers are not considering moving 26-year-old lefthander Jeffrey Springs back into a starting role, even though he excelled late in the season as an opener. Springs, who made his major league debut on July 31, made 26 starts in the minors but none in 2018. He struck out 98 in 56.2 minor league innings this season.