As Scott Barlow exited the Kansas City bullpen at Fenway Park for his major league debut last Monday, new Royals bullpen coach Vance Wilson told him he wouldn’t forget this moment for the rest of his life.
“That’s definitely the truest statement I’ve ever heard,” said the rookie right-hander, who made two relief appearances for Kansas City. “People talk about it, but it brings out more emotions than any words can.”
Barlow made his first start for Omaha since returning to Triple-A on Monday and left with a 3-0 advantage in a game the Storm Chasers lost to New Orleans 6-4 in 10 innings at Werner Park. The Royals prospect gave up only three singles and a walk while striking out five before leaving after he’d hit his pitch count.
“All my pitches seemed to be working,” he said. “(I was) able to get that curveball over for a strike pretty consistently. The biggest thing was just getting strike one. That always helps. It leads to other pitches.”
Barlow was an out away from qualifying for a win Monday when he walked Rafael Ortega with two outs in the fifth inning. He had reached his 60-pitch limit at that point, and Wily Peralta came on in relief. New Orleans third baseman Jon Rodriguez hit the reliever’s second pitch 410 feet to pull the Baby Cakes within one.
New Orleans, which swept the four-game series, scored the tying run off Peralta in the eighth with three straight singles. The last of them, an infield hit by Tomas Telis, died in the grass just feet from the plate.
“We’ve got to start making some breaks. We aren’t getting any,” Omaha manager Brian Poldberg said. “When things are going good, everything goes your way. When things are going bad, everything goes against you.”
The latter held true in the 10th. Losing pitcher Brandon Maurer beaned Isaac Galloway, who was trying to bunt. The Chasers elected to pitch to Eric Campbell, who already had three hits, with first base open and he lined a go-ahead single. Austin Dean then added a two-run single to cap big inning.
Dean had robbed Omaha of a potential victory in the bottom of the ninth inning when he caught a hard-hit line drive off the bat of Hunter Dozier while sprinting toward the left-field line with a runner at third.
Barlow was in the training room by that time. Although he worked out of the bullpen for the Royals twice last week, he’s almost exclusively been a starter during his professional career. All but seven of his 113 minor league appearances over eight years, at numerous levels, have been as a starter.
But the California native didn’t mind stepping into a different situation if it meant getting to the majors. He joked he’d even be willing to be a pinch runner for Kansas City, if that’s what the team really needed.
“If you’re in the big leagues, you’re in the big leagues. That’s kind of how I see it,” Barlow said. “Any way I can help the team win. I have no ego when it comes to that.”
The 25-year-old was selected by the Dodgers in the sixth round of the 2011 MLB draft and spent seven seasons in the Los Angeles organization. He became a free agent after last season, and the Royals enticed him with a major league contract, even though he had pitched in only eight Triple-A games.
“That was definitely an eye-opening opportunity that they thought that way of me — being able to help out with the club, whether it was earlier in the year or later in the year,” he said. “That stood out.”
Barlow will remain in the Omaha rotation moving forward as the Chasers lengthen his pitch count.