Jo Barlow scouting report: A firsthand look at the Texas Rangers relief pitcher prospect.
Joe Barlow is a 23-year-old right-handed reliever currently pitching his first season at the AA level in his 4th professional season after he was selected out of Salt Lake Community College in the 11th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Barlow is listed at 6’ 3’’ and 195 lbs, and he appears heavier and slightly shorter than what he’s listed. He possesses long limbs and a fairly lean, mature build with little visible bad weight. He looks to have limited room to add some muscle, but at his age this seems unlikely. Barlow demonstrates solid explosiveness along with decent body control on the mound.
Barlow throws out of the stretch from a high-three quarters arm slot. His delivery features significant effort, as his head jerks to the glove side as he delivers, and his body falls off the mound slightly to the glove side as he finishes. At times, he becomes inconsistent in his release point because of the relative violence in his delivery. Barlow works with a two-pitch mix consisting of a fastball and curveball. His fastball works at 94-97 with solid arm-side life and a high spin rate (2454 RPM on average) that creates good riding action. He typically controls the pitch well, but he possess below average command of the pitch, missing his spots with the fastball within the zone. With some refinement, the pitch projects as plus-plus major league offering. Barlow throws his curveball at 77-81, and the pitch features 11/5 shape with a high spin rate (2517 RPM on average) and plus depth and bite. He occasionally demonstrates inconsistent feel for the pitch, throwing it with less depth at times, but with repetition the curveball projects as a future plus major league secondary offering.
Barlow is a fairly quick, determined worker on the mound. He possesses a calm, relaxed demeanor, staying composed throughout the ups and downs of an outing. Barlow shows a willingness to throw both of his pitches in any count. Although he occasionally becomes too dependent on his fastball when he doesn’t have good feel for his curveball, his willingness to consistently mix both pitches in his arsenal keeps hitters off-balanced. His fastball generates consistent swings and misses when he elevates the pitch in the zone, though at times he allows hard contact with the pitch when he leaves it over the center of the plate. Barlow’s curveball also generates consistent swings and misses when he keeps the pitch down and away from the center of the plate. He allows hard contact with the pitch when he leaves it up and over the plate and when he loses feel for the pitch and throws it with less depth.
Joe Barlow currently profiles as a mid-leverage seventh inning reliever on a first division major league roster. The potency of his fastball-curveball combination should allow him to thrive in that role by keeping hitters off balanced and creating consistent swings and misses despite his below average command. If he never makes any improvements to the consistency of his command and never develops better feel for his curveball, his arsenal could play less effectively, and he would profile as more of a situational reliever on a major league team. However, if Barlow improves his command more than it currently projects, he would profile as a set up man or better on a first division major league team.