Robert Fish, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the Major League Rule 5 draft last December after spending the first five years of his career in the Los Angeles Angels organization. The 6-foot-2 southpaw was originally drafted in the sixth round of the 2006 draft, and sports a career minor league record of 20-20 with a 5.05 ERA. Fish split the 2010 season – his first as a full-time reliever – between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Arkansas.
The 225-pound hurler was lights out in the California League, posting a stellar 1.12 ERA in 10 appearances while fanning 25 batters in 16.0 innings pitched. He was largely ineffective upon his promotion to Double-A, however, where he compiled a bloated 8.93 ERA in 42.1 innings of work against Texas League competition. Nevertheless, he did maintain his excellent career strikeout rate (9.13 K/9 IP) in Arkansas, as he fanned 48 batters in his 39 appearances for the Travs.
Fish entered spring training with the Yankees as a long shot to make the roster, and he didn’t help his cause in his Grapefruit League appearances this spring. The big lefty appeared in five games for the Yankees, surrendering five earned runs on six hits and three walks in 4.2 innings pitched before being placed on waivers and claimed by Kansas City.
As a Rule 5 selection, Fish will have to remain on the Royals’ 25-man roster all season, or Kansas City will have to place him on waivers and offer him back to the Angels. He has big league stuff, including a decent fastball and a sweeping curveball, which could make him interesting in a left-handed setup role. The Royals want two lefties in their relief corps, and while Tim Collins presumably has one of the spots locked down, Fish will battle with southpaws Danny Duffy and Blaine Hardy for the other.
To clear room on the 40-man roster for Fish, the Royals placed Henry Barrera on the 60-day disabled list. The talented 25-year-old right-hander has had an injury-plagued career, and he missed significant time over the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He returned to action last year and posted excellent numbers down the stretch for Double-A NW Arkansas, but was shut down this spring after experiencing pain in his elbow during an intrasquad game.