The Royals made a move today to acquire left-hander Robert Fish off waivers from the Yankees. Fish, property of the Angels to begin the off-season, was selected by the Yankees in the Rule V draft this winter. To make room for Fish on the 40-man roster the Royals have opted to move 25 year old righty Henry Barrera to the 60-day disabled list.
For his part, Herrara had a very solid 2010 season, throwing 33 innings spread over 22 relief appearances while posting strong strikeout, walk, and ground ball rates. Of course, that's more of what ought to be expected of a 24 year old facing off against A+ and AA competition.
Fish is now the second player to join the Royals via the Rule V draft, as the franchise selected Nathan Adcock, a tall right handed starting pitcher who showed across the board improvement in 2010, from the Pirates with their own pick. In acquiring Fish, the Royals have given themselves another left handed option to consider for the bullpen this season. The 23 year old split time between Rookie, A+ and AA last season, throwing 68.2 combined innings spread out over an astounding 60 appearances (a ton for a MiLB pitcher). He struck out 12.1 per nine while walking 4.45 per nine. Fairly stereotypical power-relief numbers.
On the mound the 6'2" Fish works from a 3/4 slot with a drop and drive delivery. His arm motion is kind of loose and he has difficulty maintaining his arm slot which makes it difficult to repeat his delivery and leads to spotty control. He'll come at you with a four seam fastball that can reach 95, but he operates closer to 92-93. He also throws either a cutter or small slider at 86-88.
His primary secondary offering is a big breaking 11/5 curveball. The rotation is a little loose and it breaks too early, making it easier to read. He does a good job working out in front with the pitch, and gets consistent action. Unfortunately he has little to no control over it. When he keeps it down the pitch can be effective enough but if he leaves it up it can be an easy swing for MLB hitters.
As a Rule V pick, Fish will either need to make the opening day roster or be offered back to the Angels. Late last month I took a presumptive look at the Royals bullpen, concluding that Tim Collins and Danny Duffy were the two most likely candidates to fill the final lefty spot in the bullpen. Ultimately I surmised that Duffy wouldn't make the team due to their desire to ensure he got a starters reps in the minors, whereas Collins, a bullpen lefty already was more ideally suited for the role. Duffy hasn't helped himself this spring by showing spotty command while getting hit hard, so that leaves Collins, my initial pick as Fish's most likely competition.
By deciding to keep Fish on the roster throughout the season, the Royals would effectively be denying a spot to one of their other talented young arms who could perhaps use the challenge. Of course, plenty of things change - people get hurt, traded, or are simply ineffective - and there will almost certainly be other eventualities that would allow Collins, as well as others the opportunity to crack the roster.
I'm not suggesting that Fish will make the roster, the odds are always heavily against such an occurrence, actually. But for the Royals, a team that is going to lose a lot of games in 2011, taking a chance on a hard throwing lefty who has shown some ability to miss bats wouldn't be the worst idea in the world either.
Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery.