FRISCO, Texas — With Joe Barlow’s recent promotion to Double-A Frisco of the Texas League, the Riverton High product has now pitched for five teams since Texas drafted him in the 11th round of the 2016 MLB draft.
Barlow, 23, started his pro career with the rookie-level AZL Rangers in 2016, pitched for Spokane of the Short Season Single-A Northwest League in 2017, spent last season with Hickory (NC) of the Low Single-A South Atlantic League, and started 2019 with Down East, the Rangers’ High Single-A affiliate in the Carolina League who play in Kinston, North Carolina.
He made 17 appearances for the Wood Ducks, going 4-0 with an 0.38 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP and was four of five in save opportunities before he and teammate DeMarcus Evans, a fellow reliever, were promoted on May 29.
“We had an off day in Kinston and did some community service work,” Barlow said. “After (that), I got a call from our pitching coach. He told me I was getting called up. I was pretty excited. That was the goal I set at the beginning of the year. It was nice to feel I accomplished that goal.”
His new team, the Roughriders, play at Dr Pepper Ballpark in the northern Dallas suburbs, a facility with a man-made river in the outfield and a park considered one of the minors’ finest.
“This place is beautiful — the field. It’s a beautiful place for sure. The clubhouse is awesome,” Barlow said. “The weight room’s close. Everything is great. Yeah, that’s sick, the pool (in the outfield).”
Barlow has already endured countless bus rides in the minors, but realizes Frisco uses two buses on road trips instead of one, which allows each player to have their own row, something that isn’t possible at the lower levels.
And besides the obvious perk of getting paid to play the game he loves, the other aspect of playing pro ball, which he’s especially grateful for, is seeing places and parts of the country he might not have otherwise visited. “Just being able to see the whole country for free, I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said. “I’ve had a great time, really blessed for that.”
However, one thing that won't change following his recent promotion to Frisco, where made his debut pitching a scoreless inning against Amarillo on Thursday, is his gameday routine, a regimen that has been working since he started pro ball.
Barlow usually wakes up around 10 a.m. and grabs some breakfast, which often includes some kind of fruit. He then goes to the ballpark early so he can visit the training room if he needs treatment, gets something else to eat before pregame stretch, and then gets ready for the game. For a typical 7 p.m. game, he arrives at the ballpark at 2 p.m. and won’t leave until around 11 p.m., after partaking in the postgame spread.
Sure, minor league ball is a grind, but he embraces and loves the process of it all, a mentality dating back to his formative years in Riverton.
“Yeah, I think just growing up and having fun playing the game was the biggest thing. My parents never pressured me,” he said. “It was really just like a hobby. I fell in love with the game and it turned into something that I could potentially make money doing. I still look back on the days playing Little League there (in Utah). A lot of love for the game there.”
Calling Riverton home in the offseason allows him to regularly see friends and family during the winter and to do his offseason workouts close to home, another plus for the affable right-hander.Comment on this story
“I love Utah. I love the MountainWest Baseball Academy,” Barlow said. “Every time I go back there, that’s where I want to come and train. Everybody’s just super nice and I do whatever I can to help them out.”
Barlow first dreamed of being a pro baseball player while in elementary school, and his confidence in being able to climb that mountain has never wavered. But once he started meeting scouts in high school and they started visiting his house his college days playing for Salt Lake Community College, he realized he would have an opportunity to accomplish that dream.