Ex-Aggie Loux progressing in Rangers system

Had things worked out differently, Barret Loux might not even be pitching in the Texas League right now. That’s because in 2010, the Houston native and former Texas A&M standout had been drafted sixth overall by Arizona and was poised to start his professional career in the Diamondbacks organization.

But that was before the 6-5 righthander failed a physical and the D-Backs announced they had no intention of signing him, making him a free agent later in 2010. The ex-Aggie signed with the Rangers in 2010, spent last season at High Single-A Myrtle Beach and now finds himself with Double-A Frisco.

With the Roughriders, Loux is off to a 3-0 start, tying him for the most wins in the Texas League and he also has an ERA of 1.15 and has struck out 15 batters while walking only six. “It’s been fun,” he said of his time in Double-A. “We started off pretty well. It’s always fun when you’re winning, makes it a little bit easier. Biggest adjustment is hitters are definitely better but you make good pitches, you get people out, that’s what you’re trying to do.”

Frisco pitching coach Jeff Andrews has only been working with Loux for a short time, but he’s impressed with what he has seen thus far. “He’s a four-pitch pitcher, kind of a control pitcher, a pitch-to-contact pitcher. All four pitches have the ability to be average pitches and get production. I think he’s a fairly competitive pitcher, focused pitcher,” Andrews said. “I think he’s going to be a guy that climbs the ladder and will have success at every level and then just move forward. Having four pitchers and being able to throw them for strikes [is his biggest strength].”

Those four pitches he speaks of are a fastball, a curve, a slider and a changeup, which have all been part of his repertoire for some time.

“Throughout my years at A&M, I progressed and learned from where I was just trying to throw as hard as I could. You get older and you realize that’s not what gets people out. It’s great if you can throw hard but you just try to locate some pitches, change speeds and hope they hit it on the ground to a fielder,” Loux said.

Some scouting reports call his fastball his best pitch, but his current pitching coach has yet to see much difference in any of his four offerings. “I would say they’re all pretty much the same,” Andrews said. “It’s kind of a good thing that he’d be able to throw any pitch to any hitter with any angle at any speed and in any count.”

However, even with him being able to throw all four pitches very effectively, the ‘Riders pitching coach does see one area of his game he needs some work in. “Maybe a little bit in the running game, controlling the running game, commanding his fastball [is where he could improve]. I think that’s going to be a big part for him. When he throws a fastball, it’s going to have to be in a pretty tight area. I don’t think he’s going to be able to use as much as the plate as he is right now,” Andrews said.

“Continuing to be able to throw breaking balls when he’s behind in the count [is another way he can improve]. He’s going to have to pitch. He has to be a pitcher. He has the weapons to do it. He has the speed change and the angles to do it,” he said. “Controlling the big inning is going to be the biggest thing and he hasn’t been exposed to that yet.”

And if he can learn how to handle a bit of adversity and avoid the big inning, then this A&M product should be able to take the next step and become a consistent starter at this level. “The quicker you learn how to minimize damage and to sacrifice a run for an out early in the game, as soon as you learn all that stuff, then your starts get more consistent,” Andrews said. “That’s the thing that they [our pitchers here] haven’t been exposed to but they will.”

Loux made 21 starts last season for Myrtle Beach of the High Single-A Carolina League, going 8-5 with a 3.80 ERA, 127 strikeouts and just 34 walks. It was a solid start to his pro career and it definitely gave him plenty to build on both during the off-season and in 2012.

“I had some good things, some bad things. It’s a learning process. I worked with [Myrtle Beach pitching coach] Brad Holman a lot, working on my delivery and really trying to understand it and keep it the same,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to do-be able to repeat my delivery and throw strikes.”

Speaking of the off-season, not only did he spend much of his time fine tuning some mechanical aspects of his delivery, specifically with the lower half of his body, but he also found time to return to College Station and complete his degree in finance.

“Yeah, it was kind of hard to go back. I had 18 [hours] left and I showed about a week and a half late, so that wasn’t too fun,” Loux admitted. “But it was nice to be close enough to get it done. Most people aren’t that lucky and I was. I figured now’s as good as time as any, so I did it.”

He realizes that he’s now almost two years removed from the very unique experience of getting drafted, failing a physical, becoming a free agent and then signing with the Rangers, a process he admits was interesting to say the least.

“Yeah, it was definitely hard for a while. The hardest thing about it was not knowing what was going to happen,” Loux recalled. “It was really hard on me until I realized one day that I’m still very lucky and blessed. There were a lot of people in a lot worse situations than I was, whether it’s health wise, other issues. I just realized I was very lucky and was happy about it. When I learned I was going to be a free agent, that was a big relief for me.”

Even though he and Andrews haven’t worked together for very long and are honestly still getting to know one another, this native of the Bayou City expects big results from working with his new pitching coach.

“It’s good. We haven’t worked too much. I think working with him’s going to be really good and I’m going to learn some different things that are really going to help me move along,” Loux said.

For some Double-A pitchers, it remains to be seen whether they would best be suited going forward as a starter or as a reliever, but for Andrews, there’s no doubt about what kind of pitcher Loux will be going forward.

“I think he’s a starter. That hasn’t even entered my mind as far as him being a reliever,” Andrews said. “There’s lots of guys out here you have to look at both ways, but I haven’t even thought about him as a reliever.”

While he wouldn’t trade the experience he gained last year in the Carolina League for anything, he admits it is pretty cool to now be playing in his home state.

“Yeah, it’s definitely nice,” Loux said. “My parents came up this past weekend. It’s about four and a half, maybe five hours from home, a lot better than being a few states away. I know a lot of people from Dallas, have got some friends here. It’ll be nice.”