ANAHEIM — Last season was a breakthrough for Angels pitching prospect Jaime Barria.
After opening the year at Class A Advanced Inland Empire, the 21-year-old right-hander made a steep ascent through the farm system, earning a promotion to Double-A Mobile before finishing the season at Triple-A Salt Lake. Barria maintained his success even as he progressed through each level, logging a combined 2.80 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP over 141 2/3 innings.
“I had the opportunity to face batters at Triple-A, and it was a little bit difficult,” Barria said in Spanish during the Rookie Career Development Program in Leesburg, Va., last weekend. “Hopefully I’ll be able to improve in 2018 and have more consistency and continue to develop.”
The next challenge for Barria seems likely to be the Majors, as he has emerged as one of the Angels’ top pitching prospects in the upper Minors and was added to the club’s 40-man roster in November. General manager Billy Eppler has also included Barria among his list of nine pitchers who he believes will contribute to the Angels’ rotation in 2018.
The club figures to get a closer look at Barria during Spring Training, as the Panama native received his first invitation to Major League camp.
“I’m preparing myself physically and mentally for what’s ahead, since they invited me to Major League camp,” Barria said. “I know it’s going to be a difficult challenge, but you have to face it and show up.”
Barria, who is ranked as the Angels’ No. 9 prospect by MLB Pipeline, features a three-pitch mix, wielding a low-90s fastball with good life, a deceptive changeup and a curveball. He has already shown that his stuff can play against high levels of competition, as demonstrated by his successful appearance at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Miami last summer.
Still, Barria said his goal for 2018 is to continue to refine his pitches, particularly his breaking ball.