Barraclough looks to unlock command

Marlins excited by right-hander's fastball-slider combination

Barraclough looks to unlock command

JUPITER, Fla. -- It's not a matter of if Kyle Barraclough will contribute in the Marlins' bullpen; it's a matter of when. For now, it's going to be at least a little while because the hard-throwing right-hander will open the season at Triple-A New Orleans.

How quickly Barraclough is back in the big leagues may simply be a matter of when he regains command of his blazing fastball. Once that happens, the 25-year-old could find himself in Miami for a while.

In 2015, Barraclough showed promise after he was acquired in July from the Cardinals for Steve Cishek. With an upper 90-mph fastball and a wipeout slider, Barraclough might even profile as a future closer.

But until he regains his command, Barraclough enters 2016 as the Marlins' prospect to watch.

According to MLBPipeline.com, Barraclough is the Marlins' 20th-ranked prospect. If he shows consistency, he should propel much higher.

Barraclough's stuff is electric, which wasn't lost on the coaching staff before he was sent down in Spring Training.

"Barraclough probably has the best slider coming out of our bullpen," manager Don Mattingly said. "But you have to get to that pitch. As a power arm, you want him to get ahead in the count and put the hitter on defense."

In Spring Training, Barraclough wasn't able to do that because he struggled throwing strikes. He struck out eight but also walked eight in 6 1/3 Grapefruit League innings.

Pounding the zone wasn't a problem for the right-hander after he joined Miami last summer. In 25 appearances over 24 1/3 innings, he was 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA, 30 strikeouts and 18 walks.

The power fastball is there, as shown by his 2015 average fastball velocity of 95.6 mph, according to Fangraphs. He averaged 11.10 strikeouts and 6.66 walks per nine innings.

Breaking down his pitch selection, Barraclough threw 60.7 percent fastballs a year ago and 38.4 percent sliders at an average of 83.4 mph.

When those two pitches are on, he's tough to hit.

At New Orleans, Barraclough will get work throwing multiple innings.

"We want him to go there in a multi-inning role and work on his fastball command," said Marc DelPiano, the club's vice president of player development. "We're refining some of that in his delivery and getting him multi-inning usage."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.