As a prep athlete Barbato was one of the better pitchers in the talent laden South Florida area with a fastball that touched 95 mph on a team coached by his father.
Last year in Eugene he had an up and down season. While arguably having the best stuff on the team he struggled to repeat his delivery, hurting his control.
This year the organization moved him to the bullpen and so he's been the pitcher the organization thought he would be with a 1.10 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 16.1 innings against only six walks as MidWest League batters have only hit .180 against him.
After a brief stint on the disabled list with some shoulder tightness he's been back and better than ever.
How good has Barbato, 19, been this year? In eleven games he has only given up an earned run only once.
|In 10 of 11 outings Barbato has allowed no earned runs.|
We caught up with John at the end of April when the northern Indiana spring was still a little cold for the Florida native.
Being from Miami and being used to hot weather how were you able to get off to such a good start in the cold of Fort Wayne?
John Barbato: [laughs] It isn't too bad. I have a bunch of family that I visit all the time up in North Carolina so I have been around cold weather before.
It is different from Arizona and Miami so it is tougher to get warmed up, especially as a reliever but I'm getting used to it.
That was my next question.
You are now coming out of the pen. Most guys that are starters are pretty locked into routines as compared to now when you can be asked to get up at anytime. How has that been going?
John Barbato: I like it. I have a new routine and it really allows me to be more aggressive. Right now I just have to worry about going out there and throwing one or two innings and just let it go.
So in a way its easier for me.
Some guys we talk to when they move from the rotation to the bullpen like it because as you said they just let it go and don't have to worry about setting up hitters.
John Barbato: Exactly that is the way it has been with me.
You signed out of high school last year. What was the biggest adjustment going from high school to being a pro?
John Barbato: Being a starter it was the five day rotation and the amount of innings that you have to throw. I think in high school the most innings that I threw was around forty-four.
With Eugene and extended spring I must have thrown close to a hundred innings last year. It was definitely a big adjustment with all of the throwing.
Did they change any of your mechanics after you signed?
John Barbato: In high school I didn't come over my head with my hands and they changed that last year with me. It felt good but this year they want me to go back to throwing in front.
Really though its just throwing the baseball which is how I look at it.
What has your biggest improvement been from last year to this?
John Barbato: Confidence and throwing more strikes. I walked too many people last year and am not doing that this year.
Did the confidence you gain come from the off-season workouts you do? You look like you are in better shape?
John Barbato: I worked really hard this past off-season because last year I could have come in at better shape. This year has been a lot better and it helps.
There were some reports that you were overweight last year is that true?
John Barbato: Last year I came in at around 200 lbs. and had about fourteen percent body fat. This year I was also at fourteen percent but at 215 lbs. which is a better percentage [laughs].
So I got a little bigger.
What do you throw?
John Barbato: I throw a four-seam and two-seam but mainly the four-seam along with a change and curve.
In high school I'm assuming you blew away most guys with your four-seamer. How did you change coming into the pros?
John Barbato: I'm fastball dominant and want to get ahead with it. When I get ahead then I tend to throw the curve and change more.
I can imagine coming out of the pen you are even throwing more fastballs?
John Barbato: Yeah. I like being aggressive and throwing strikes. You know you don't want to go out there with men on base and throw a first pitch curve ball and miss.
A big part of throwing the fastball is its location and I've gotten better at that part of my game this season.
What is your biggest goal that you are working on this year?
John Barbato: More strikes and not walking people. Last year I just walked too many people and they ended up scoring skyrocketing my ERA.
If I don't walk people, they don't score and it helps my team win. If they want to beat me they are going to have to swing the bats.