Barbato Settling In

TRENTON, NJ — In 2014, Johnny Barbato suffered an elbow injury that caused him to miss a large portion of the season. In the early going of this year, he is making that setback seem like a very long time ago. The 22-year old Miami native doesn't back down from adversity; instead, he takes it in stride.

Following an offseason trade from the San Diego Padres organization, Johnny Barbato has adjusted well to his new Pinstriped surroundings and has proven he can be a force out of the bullpen if he stays healthy.

“I’m loving it here so far," Barbato said. "Obviously a lot has changed since being with San Diego, but everything changed for the better. I have a lot of respect for the Yankees and the way they go about their business. The way they treat my arm is better than anything I’ve had in my career.”

In his debut with the Thunder against the Erie Seawolves, Barbato picked up the win in relief going 1 and 2/3 while striking out four. He stressed that if there’s any lasting effects from his injury, he is not feeling them.

“Physically, I feel great," he said. "I feel better than I did last season before I got hurt. Everything is back to normal. The only negative aspect that came from being on the DL for so long was that I gained a little bit of weight, so a big part of the offseason for me was trying to cut down on that.”

During that 2014 season, Barbato appeared in 27 games before his injury, compiling 16 saves and a 2.87 ERA for Double-A San Antonio. He struck out 33 batters to only ten walks and finished with a 2-2 record. However, his best season came in 2012 with the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the single-A affiliate of San Diego.

In 48 appearances, Barbato finished with an impressive ERA of 1.84 and a record of 6-1. For his opponents, the batting average against him was a meager .195, the best number of his young career. His success can be credited to the combination of his power fastball and curveball, a combination which Trenton pitching coach Jose Rosado considers second to none among the prospects he’s seen.

"Johnny is a guy who knows what he’s doing when he’s out there," Rosado said. "I saw him for the first time during Spring Training and knew right away he was a guy we could count on day in and day out. That breaking ball is a power pitch for him and that’s not an easy thing to do."

Trenton Manager Al Pedrique also commented on his right hander’s arsenal of tough pitches. He feels that Barbato has the potential to accomplish big things in the Yankees organization.

"Any guy who can throw a breaking ball for a strike consistently is tough to hit," Pedrique added. "He has command of his fastball and command of his curveball. He has an added advantage over hitters because of that combination. I think if he stays healthy he’s a guy with a lot of potential to play in the big leagues."

If Barbato can mimic the dominance he displayed two seasons ago in Fort Wayne, Pedrique will not be the only person pulling for him to move on to the big leagues. But for Barbato, it’s all about giving it your best and letting the rest take care of itself.

"I wasn’t worried about still being in the Double-A this season," he said. "I’m just worried about pitching well and giving myself the best opportunity to be successful. I thought I had a good Spring [Training] and I think there’s a lot of positives I can take from it. Right now, it’s all about having a routine and hoping for the best."

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