The Royals claimed left-handed pitcher Robert Fish off waivers from the Yankees today. He was a Rule 5 pick from the Angels.
Fish is 6’2″ and a former 6th round pick in 2006 with a 95 mph fastball and a big but inconsistent curveball. In 365.2 innings in the minors Fish has a career ERA of 5.05 with 9.1 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9. It looks like he could be a bit nasty with the fastball, but the curve is the key. Greg Schaum noted that if he tweaked his delivery here or there, he could be an Andy Sisco type of lefty.
Batters hit .431 on balls in play last year in his time at Double A Arkansas in the Texas League. He gave up 14.7 H/9 in 42.1 IP at that level en route to a 8.93 ERA. He got hit hard in the Arizona Fall League as well, putting up a 10.45 ERA in 10.1 innings.
Ned Yost has mentioned he’d like two left-handed relievers in his bullpen this year. It seems that Tim Collins is a favorite to be one of them and Danny Duffy seemed like an option, too. With Fish being a Rule 5 pick by the Yankees, the Royals retain that obligation, so he’ll have to be on the Royals big league roster all season or be offered back to the Angels. There’s a chance they can work it out to put him in the minors like Edward Osuna last year, who was acquired as a Rule 5 pitcher and ended up in Double A.
The Royals must see something in Fish that they can work on to make him a big league reliever, because the numbers don’t suggest he’s ready. He doesn’t have great control and gives up hits, though he does have a reasonable ground ball rate, historically. Fish joins Nathan Adcock as Rule 5 players on the Royals this year. So far, Adcock has pitched well in spring training, with five scoreless innings in four appearances.
To make room for Fish, the Royals placed Henry Barrera on the 60-day disabled list. He’s lost a lot of time due to Tommy John surgery in 2009 and threw to one batter this spring before experiencing pain in his elbow. An MRI showed a bone bruise and strained flexor tendon and he was originally going to be on the shelf for two to three weeks. His 60 days start once the regular season begins but his roster spot is clear now.