By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - Tampa, Arizona, Montana, Indiana and road trips along the way.
Andrew Barbosa has traveled quite a bit since being drafted by the Diamondbacks last month and USF's former ace left-hander keeps packing his bags with a big smile.
Barbosa wrapped up a solid college career by leading the Big East in strikeouts and helping the Bulls get to the conference tournament title game for the very first time in the program's history. The experience served as yet another solid audition for pro scouts to say the least.
Usually a guy that racks up 110 K's, posts a 2.75 earned run average as a senior and is 6-foot-8 left-hander is an easy option for pro teams once draft time comes. Barbosa's situation was much different, however.
The former Riverview High School star was originally drafted by San Francisco in the 15th round when he was a senior. The Giants selected Barbosa again in 2007 and getting a third call from a pro team eventually meant he had to bounce back from two major surgeries - a posterior labrum shoulder procedure in 2008 and Tommy John in 2011.
Barbosa won half the battle by coming back strong as a Bull in 2012 and the second part of the fight to become a pro meant having patience.
"I knew I was going to go later on (in the draft), if not free agent, so I wasn't really worried about it," Barbosa admitted.
Barbosa's cellphone started getting busy pretty late in the draft when the New York Yankees called and told him they would be making a play for him soon enough. Before the Yankees could make it official with Barbosa the Diamondbacks stated their claim on the pitcher by selecting him in the 36th round (1,113th overall).
"My mom was going crazy calling people over (to the house) and stuff. She always goes above and beyond," he said.
And that's where Barbosa's wild road trip all over America began. The Diamondbacks wanted him to report as soon as possible and ironically enough Barbosa was on a flight to Arizona the next morning with USF teammate Derrick Stultz, who was drafted by the club in the 14th round.
"It's just been a crazy ride. Everything happened so fast," Barbosa said. "I left the next day at 8 in the morning. You meet so many people."
Barbosa was in Arizona for six days getting physicals and participating in a minicamp for new members of the organization. Days consisted of getting up at 6 a.m. for breakfast and being in action on the field until about 2 p.m.
Barbosa's next plane trip was to Montana, where he was assigned to Missoula Osprey of the rookie Pioneer League.
"I never have been that far west. It was a little college town and I loved it," he said.
Barbosa certainly didn't stay around long enough to become a local. The former All-Big East first team selection went 1-0 with a 0.41 ERA in 22 innings while he surrendered just nine hits the whole time against a majority of players that were just coming out of high school.
"They are still learning the game," the 24-year-old Barbosa said. "I'm old to a lot of kids there. They're free swingers and they're trying to impress still."
Barbosa's first impression on the Diamondbacks made them decide to promote him after only about a month in pro ball.
"You have to be ready for anything," Barbosa said.
The way Barbosa found out about his promotion is proof. One of the Osprey's starters went down with an ankle injury at the time and the organization sent a young arm up to join the club. The newcomer and Barbosa were warming up before the final game of a road trip when a coach walked over to the youngster and told him he'd be pitching on Barbosa's usual start day.
"I asked the coach, 'Are him and I going to split the game or something?' Barbosa said. "He said, 'We'll see when we get there.'"
Shortly after the chat, Barbosa was in the skipper's office and got the news of his promotion. He'd be leaving the next day.
"I didn't even know what to say to the coaches after they told me," he said. "It's amazing because there are so many guys here. For you to get called up, it's huge."
The Osprey got back home at about 2 a.m. the night of their final game of the road trip and Barbosa was on a flight by noon to South Bend, Ind., where he'd be joining the Silver Hawks of the Class-A Midwest League.
"Here is like picking up where college is again," Barbosa said. "It's like playing the Gators or something like that. Hitters are more selective, they're older. It's a lot more competition and you don't get away with those little mistake pitches anymore."
Barbosa has made two appearances at his current level and started out by giving up two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. Barbosa showed he's getting more adjusted to his league Monday when he struck out eight in 4 1/3 innings of a victory.
"My changeup has been with me my whole life, thank God," he said Monday night. "When my changeup is on, it's big for me."
Aside from facing more seasoned hitters, perhaps the biggest adjustment for Barbosa has been getting used to the pro schedule that consists of very few days off.
"You have to take it for what it is," he said. "Tomorrow I might wake up a little tired and stuff, but there is work I have to do. There are no breaks here. You just have to keep going."
One thing you won't hear is a complaint from a player that is savoring the experience after all he's been through just to put on a pro hat.
"I'm not taking anything for granted. Either one of those (injuries) could have ended my career," he said. "I feel blessed and I'm just taking it day by day."