3. Joe Barlow – Right-handed Pitcher
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Texas Rangers have a hard-throwing, right-handed reliever who has climbed quickly through the minor league system. Joe Barlow fits the bill of so many right-handed relievers that have popped up in the Rangers organization and is poised to show his stuff in big league camp this spring.
Surprisingly, Barlow, 24, was left off the 40-man roster this winter leaving him open to the Rule 5 draft. Even more surprisingly, he wasn’t taken, meaning he remained with the Rangers organization which was a pleasant surprise to the club. He wasn’t left off for a lack of talent as much as Texas had a ton of Rule 5 players this offseason they had to add to the 40-man to protect and with limited space, Barlow missed out.
Barlow joined Demarcus Evans, Emmanuel Clase and Peter Fairbanks as right-handed relievers that impressed mightily in the minors last season, the latter two building up their value enough to be used as trade assets. Barlow started the 2019 season in High-A throwing 23.2 innings in relief for the Wood Ducks. He struck out 44 hitters at that level and posted a 0.38 ERA which got him quickly moved to Frisco. At the Double-A level, Barlow continued to impress making 13 appearances and striking out 27 across 16 innings. After 30 appearances across those two levels, Barlow moved to Triple-A Nashville where he hit some struggles. He threw 17.1 innings across 19 relief outings and had an 8.83 ERA. However his strikeout rate remained impressive at 11.42 per nine innings and his FIP of 5.64 painted a slightly prettier picture.
Barlow is actually a player that could get to the big leagues this season as the Rangers are sure to continue their rotation of young big league relievers. He should start the season with Triple-A where he’ll look to fair better than he did in 2019 and continue his ascent up the organizational ladder.