The road to Scott Barlow’s first guaranteed major league contract, like most players, was far from a direct path.
It started in Quaker Hill, Conn., brought him out to Golden Valley his freshman year of high school, next up was seven seasons in the minors, and then, finally, the right-hander inked a one-year $900,000 deal Wednesday with the Kansas City Royals.
“It’s been a long haul,” said his mother Margaret over the phone Friday. “He never wavered throughout the process.”
To be clear, Scott, who was drafted by the Dodgers in the sixth round of the 2011 MLB First-Year-Player Draft out of Golden Valley, is not assured a spot on the Royals’ active roster next season
But he’s been added to the team’s 40-man roster, which greatly increases his chances of being called up if he doesn’t crack the majors out of spring training. That was a luxury Scott wasn’t afforded with the Dodgers, whose $265.15 million payroll last season — tops in the majors — made 40-man roster spots hards to come by.
“We’re extremely grateful for everything the Dodgers did for Scotty,” Margaret said. “But we’re so excited he’s getting this opportunity.”
Margaret, and her boyfriend, Stevan Mack, played nearly as big of a role in getting Scott to the majors as his right arm.
Scott grew up in Quaker Hill, just north of New London and near the Coast Guard Academy, where frigid conditions disallowed a chance at year-round baseball.
That’s when the family came up with an idea to give Scott that opportunity, seeing he had above-average ability at a young age.
“We decided if we were going to do this, we were going to go all in,” Margaret said. “We have a running joke in our family that goes, ‘All baseball, all the time.’”
All-in meant a move to Santa Clarita, a hotbed for high school baseball, where a chance to be spotted by a scout were maximized beyond belief.
So, in November of Scott’s freshman year, they packed up and moved to the West Coast from Quaker Hill — a town with a population just over 26,000, per the 2011 census.
“It was definitely hard for everyone,” Margaret said. “We had all of our family here. His older brother, Christopher, had already graduated high school and stayed back. Scotty had the same group of friends since elementary school. But everyone was very supportive.”
Then-Golden Valley coach Scott Drootin quickly made the decision to move Scott Barlow to the mound full-time after splitting time at shortstop as well.
One bullpen session was all he needed to see.
“He was unbelievable,” said Drootin, who stepped down as Golden Valley’s coach in 2013. “He had such long arms and a nasty curveball that was pretty much unhittable.
Barlow was named the school’s Athlete of the Year his senior season and was spotted by Dodgers area scout Dennis Moeller, leading to his selection in the draft and him bypassing a scholarship to Fresno State.
“He was looking at the big picture,” Drootin said. “He just wanted to get to that next level.”
After living in Burbank for a bit after Scott’s graduation, Margaret and Mack moved back to Quaker Hill where they live today.
Barlow climbed the Dodgers’ minor league ranks, reaching Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2015, despite missing all of the 2012 season due to Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.
The 6-foot-3 starter spent time with Double-A Tulsa and Oklahoma City last season, going 7-6 with a 3.29 ERA in 26 outings.
Though Margaret said Scott loved everything about the minor leagues, right down to the grueling road trips and having to live out of a suitcase at times, that portion of his career could be nearing an end.
It’s unclear whether the Royals plan to use him as a starter, which he’s been accustomed to his entire career, or as a reliever, which may afford him a greater opportunity to earn a spot on the active roster.
Either way, you can bet when Scott does trot out to the mound for his first major league appearance, Margaret and the rest of the Barlow crew will be there to witness.
“I’ll just be a blubbering mess when that happens,” said Margaret with a laugh. “They’ll definitely be tears of pride, though.”
NOTE — The Dodgers’ payroll calculation for the 2017 season was according to Spotrac.