When I saw Clark Spencer's tweet Friday afternoon scooping the Steve Cishek trade, the prospect aficionado in me started to guess who the Cardinals were sending in return. I tweeted out that I wondered if the Marlins were interested in Patrick Wisdom, probably Edward Mujica/Zack Cox bias, but Cishek had been a reliable reliever in the past. When Spencer announced that reliever Kyle Barraclough was the return, I was stunned.
And here is why.
The Cardinals selected Barraclough in the 7th round of the 2012 draft out of St. Mary's College in California, the same college that Patrick Wisdom attended. Do I get half credit for predicting the trade piece? Probably not. At St. Mary's, Barraclough was a starter and went 2-9 with a 3.95 ERA over 84 1/3 innings while striking out 80. He was a senior sign in a draft class full of current and future MLBers like Tim Cooney, Michael Wacha, Jacob Wilson, and Wisdom. Being a senior sign, Barraclough took a huge under-slot deal to join the Cardinals organization. Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch has his bonus at $65,000, which was a savings of over $78,000. John Manuel of Baseball America said that Barraclough had the second best fastball in the 2012 draft for the Cards, behind Wacha. Manuel also pointed out that he was headed to the bullpen, and he was correct, for the most part.
After signing with the club, Barraclough was assigned to the Batavia Muckdogs, the Cardinals' short-season affiliate in the New York-Penn League (now they are affiliated with the State College Spikes). With the 'Dogs, Barraclough made three starts - which turned out to be the only starts in his career - and pitched a total of 18 innings before being promoted to the Quad Cities River Bandits, the Cards Low-A Midwest League affiliate at the time. Barraclough went a combined 0-3 with a 3.06 ERA between the two stops.
2013 was a wasted year for the 6'3" hurler as he dealt with shoulder problems and did not appear in a game until late in the season when he was on a rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast Cardinals, where he appeared in just three games and pitched a total of 3 1/3 innings.
Finally healthy in 2014, the Cardinals started to fast track the then-24-year-old reliever. He saw time between the Low-A Peoria Chiefs (the Cards' new MWL affiliate) and the Palm Beach Cardinals, the Cards' High-A affiliate in the Florida State League. He spent the first month of the season with Peoria, excelled, and was quickly promoted to Palm Beach, where he struggled. In mid July he was sent back to Peoria. For the Chiefs, he had a 1.12 ERA over 40 innings and struck out 13.5 batters per 9 innings. With Palm Beach, he had a 5.40 ERA and struck out 8.8 batters per 9 innings.
2015 saw a return to Palm Beach, a place he struggled at in 2014, but things were different the second time around. Over 15 innings with Palm Beach, he had a 0.60 ERA and a 13.8 K/9 rate. The now 25-year old was quickly aging out of High-A and received a promotion in May to Double-A Springfield where he quickly became the Springfield Cardinals closer. For the S-Cards, his K rate dropped a bit and his ERA rose, things to be expected after making the daunted Double-A jump, but one thing remained the same, his velocity, which can sit in the high-90's.
What does the future hold for Barraclough?
About a year ago, Eric took a look at the relievers in his inventory post, and rated Barraclough a C+. Throughout his minor league career, he has battled his command. To the point that he is walking a career high 7 batters per 9 innings this season, an astronomical amount for a reliever and ranked 6th worst in the Texas League for pitchers with at least 20 innings. Also, his 3.65 FIP, which is not too shabby, is his career high. It is obvious the Cardinals saw Barraclough as an easy trade piece. At 25 years old, he isn't getting any younger and is a ways down on the depth chart.
John Mozeliak did it again, he made a significant upgrade to the Cardinals bullpen without giving up a whole lot. Barraclough could become a bullpen piece for the Marlins, if he stays healthy, but the reward of giving Kevin Siegrist or Seth Maness or Trevor Rosenthal rest is completely worth it.
Hopefully the manager sees it that way.