The Milwaukee Brewers haven’t been very active in the market for talent from independent leagues in the past, but it appears as though that may be changing this winter. The club already signed one indy baller earlier this offseason in righty Chad Nading, and now the club has purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Luke Barker from the Traverse City Beach Bums of the Frontier League. That’s according to the Frontier League transactions page and was first pointed out by Jim Goulart of Brewerfan.net on Twitter.
Per his player page on the Beach Bums website, Barker will turn 25 next March and is a graduate of Chico State University where he majored in exercise physiology and is currently in pursuit of a Master’s Degree in biomechanics. In four years for Chico State’s baseball team, he appeared in 72 games and posted a 2.91 ERA in 257.0 innings pitched while notching 18 saves. Barker became a strength and conditioning coach for Chico State following his graduation before signing with Traverse City prior to the 2016 season.
Barker worked exclusively as a reliever for the Beach Bums and was a dominant force against his Frontier League foes. He appeared in 42 games, working 62.1 innings while allowing a minuscule 1.44 ERA. He struck out 83 of the 240 batters he faced (34.6%), walked only 10 opposing hitters (4.2%), and served up just two home runs (0.3 HR/9). He finished 22 games and earned the save in seven of them.
Barker has a sturdy build, standing at 6’4” and weighing in at 225 pounds. He throws from a relatively over-the-top arms slot. Luke features a fastball in the 91-93 MPH range along with a 2 seamer (89-91 MPH), slider (75-77 MPH), changeup (79-80 MPH), and split-finger (83-84 MPH). Barker’s manager in Traverse City described him as “a big strong RHP with a good action sinking fastball, a tight slider and splitter.”
Given his expansive repertoire, large frame, and quiet delivery, it certainly stands to reason that the club could give Barker a look as a starter. There’s a good chance he’ll start in full season ball next year with Wisconsin or perhaps Carolina.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference