Barret Loux has been through a lot since he last took the mound in a competitive situation.
The right-hander last pitched for Texas A&M during the Aggies' NCAA Regional at Miami on June 8, 2010––the day after he was selected sixth overall in the MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
As it turned out, Loux didn't sign with the Diamondbacks after the club didn't like what they saw in the medicals (more detail here). Major League Baseball then made an unprecedented ruling in making Loux a free agent.
After going through workouts and physicals with a handful of clubs, the Houston native eventually chose to sign with the Texas Rangers for a $312,000 bonus.
While Loux is currently healthy, he has had elbow problems in his past––including undergoing a 2009 procedure to remove bone spurs––and the physical with Arizona reportedly revealed potential shoulder issues down the line.
But right now, Loux is healthy and ready to pitch. And if he can stay healthy, he could prove to be a bargain for the organization.
Loux flashed his above-average stuff when he took the mound during a High-A spring training game against Kansas City on Thursday, March 17. It was the first time he'd pitched in a game since that NCAA Miami Regional.
The 21-year-old worked two innings, yielding a run on one hit. He walked one, hit one, and struck out two. As Loux explains below, he was a bit erratic during the game, throwing 20 of his 36 pitches for strikes in the two frames. But the stuff was plenty good.
The prospect threw his fastball anywhere between 91-96 mph, sitting mostly in the 92-94 range and showing a little late armside action. He buried two breaking balls––one 84 mph slider and one 78 mph curveball––in the dirt to record swinging strikeouts. He also mixed in a few 86-87 mph changeups.
One of the primary knocks on Loux during his collegiate career was his lack of a developed secondary arsenal, despite the four-pitch repertoire. He began throwing the curve, slider, and change more often in 2010, and all three pitches looked usable––though the change was a bit firm at times––in his first outing.
Lone Star Dugout caught up with the Texas A&M product to discuss his introduction to professional ball and his experience at spring training.
Jason Cole: How many games have you appeared in so far in camp?
Barret Loux: I've thrown two innings and then three innings so far.
Cole: How did you feel about the two outings?
Loux: The first one––the velo felt good. I felt kind of out of control a little bit. I just hadn't thrown in a little while. The second one was a lot more in control. I was doing what I wanted to do on the mound instead of just trying to throw hard. I was really efficient. I threw three innings and didn't give up any runs––just throwing strikes and getting ahead of people.
Cole: And I guess you hadn't been out there in a competitive situation since last year's college season, when you were with A&M.
Loux: Yeah, it has been a long time. It has been about seven months.
Cole: What was it like being able to get back out there and pitch to hitters?
Loux: It was nice. It's nice to play baseball again. It's nice to not have to worry about everything else. I liked just being able to be in control.
Cole: You obviously had a couple workouts with teams before you signed over the offseason. But after you signed with the Rangers, what did you do to prepare for the full season?
Loux: I just kept doing the same old stuff that I had been doing. I was throwing about three times per week––a lot of long toss, lifting, running, arm care.
Cole: Were you working out at A&M?
Loux: Yeah. The coaches were cool with me coming up there. I knew all the players, so it was a good place to be able to get my work in.
Cole: When did you get out here to spring training?
Loux: February 1st.
Cole: What have you been doing to prepare since you've been out here?
Loux: Just getting acclimated with everybody––getting to know everybody. I've been talking to people. I've been doing workouts and arm care especially. That has been big for me, and that's something I'm going to have to continue to do. Just stuff like that.
Cole: There are a couple Houston guys and a couple Big 12 guys in the system. Did you know anyone as you came into camp?
Loux: Not well. I've met people––people that I've played against. We had met that way.
Cole: When you're working in games or throwing bullpens, what has been your main focus out here?
Loux: The bullpen stuff has been the same focuses I've had during games. I'm trying to keep the ball down, throw breaking balls for strikes, and get ahead of people. Just stuff like that––the same old normal things.
Cole: In college, you mixed in both a cutter and a curveball. Are you still throwing both out here?
Loux: Yep, I'm still throwing both.
Cole: Do you feel that one breaking ball is more advanced over the other?
Loux: I feel like they're different. On any given day, one could be on and on another day it's not and the other one will be. It's nice to kind of have that for a day where one isn't on––you still have another one.
Cole: Would you call it a cutter or more of a slider?
Loux: I call it more of a slider.
Cole: You threw a few changeups in there during your first outing, which was two innings. When you were at A&M, how often were you mixing in the change?
Loux: It depended on the batter, for sure. I threw it a lot more to lefties. I'm starting to work on throwing it to righties. It just depends on the game. I throw it a good bit––it has become a really good pitch for me.
Cole: Especially in the first two years in your college career, you relied heavily on the fastball. But it seemed like you started mixing in the three secondary pitches last season.
Loux: Yeah, no doubt. After surgery and being pain free and being able to get out in front––it really helped that out a lot. I was learning to do that again and experimenting with it. It got a lot better.
Cole: Have you heard anything about where you'll begin the season?
Loux: No, not officially yet. I'm just throwing. We'll see and go from there.
Cole: I know your first game was with the High-A club. Which group did you play with in the second outing?
Loux: I threw with Hickory, with Neil Ramirez.
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Loux back on the mound
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