After the jump, we continue by taking a look at the #15 player in the LSB Community Prospect Rankings, righthanded pitcher Barret Loux...
Barret Loux is a 6'5", 215 lb. righthanded pitcher from Houston, Texas. Drafted by the Tigers in the 24th round in 2007, he was reportedly close to signing for an $800,000 bonus before deciding to attend Texas A&M instead. Heading into the draft, Loux was expected to be a supplemental first rounder, and Baseball America had him ranked as the #35 prospect in the draft. Instead, he was nabbed at #6 overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks, with the D-Backs reportedly targeting him for signability reasons.
However, Loux failed his physical, which created an opportunity for Arizona. Under the old draft rules, had Arizona not signed Loux, they would have gotten a compensation pick in the supplemental first round in the following year's draft. However, under the new rules, if Arizona didn't sign Loux, they would get the 7th pick in the 2011 draft -- considered a deeper draft than the 2010 class -- as compensation.
As a result, Arizona announced that they weren't going to sign Loux. While the D-Backs were within their rights to do so, it put Loux in a bad spot...Arizona was essentially forcing him to postpone his professional career for a year. In a rare instance of MLB showing some common sense, it was ultimately determined that Arizona would get their compensatory pick, and Loux would be declared a free agent.
Ultimately, the Rangers inked Loux to a deal in November that included a $312,000 bonus -- well less than what a supplemental first round pick would normally get, and well less than you'd expect for someone with Loux's pedigree who has the freedom to sign with any team (other than one) in baseball. The relatively low bonus was generally attributed to concerns about Loux's health, given his history of bone chips in his elbow and shoulder problems that sidelined him in high school.
Loux spent the 2011 season at high-A Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League, and while his 3.80 ERA wasn't all that impressive, he did sport solid peripherals, striking out 127 hitters in 109 innings while allowing just 6 home runs. Lous walked just 34 hitters last season, as well, although he also had 17 wild pitches and 8 HBPs. While 7 Myrtle Beach players made the Carolina League top 20 list in BA's post-season rankings (including Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, who are no longer in the Ranger organization), Barret Loux was not among those who made the cut.
Loux's best pitch is his fastball, which is generally in the low-90s. Loux also has a curveball, a slider, and a changeup, but none of them are viewed as pitches that will ever be more than average, which limits his ceiling to that of a back-end innings eater. The limited ceiling, along with the belief among some that more arm problems in the future are inevitable, contribute to Loux being generally ranked lower among the prospect cognoscenti than his #15 ranking here...Jason Parks has him at #23, Jason Cole at #22, BA at #20, and Jamey Newberg at #24. While it is sometimes suggested that I get too hung up on bonuses when talking about prospects, it is difficult for me to believe that a player who signed as a free agent for $312,000 in 2010, and who essentially met expectations in 2011, should be ranked higher than a player who signed as a free agent for $5 million in 2011.
For 2012, Loux will likely start the season in AA Frisco. As a pitcher without great stuff who throws a lot of strikes, the Texas League should present a significant challenge for Loux, and if he responds and shows he can get upper-level hitters out while staying healthy, his prospect star should continue to rise.