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Angels SP prospect Jaime Barria was promoted to double-A and it’s a bigger deal than you might expect

Barria is making his case for top pitching prospect in the system.

A Panamanian righty signed back in 2012, Barria has come into his own as a back-end pitchability starter. Last year in A-ball, he recorded 25 starts, 117 IP, 6 K/9, 1.62 BB/9, a 3.85 ERA, and a 3.42 FIP. As a 19-year old playing in full-season ball against players two to three years his senior, that’s quite impressive.

Coming into the season, here’s what our very own Josh Mayhood had to say regarding Barria moving forward.

He still needs to work on his strikeout ratio, and it’d be nice if his secondary pitches could improve to the level that his fastball is currently at, but there is still a ton of talent here, and he’s still merely 20 years old. The 6’1, 210 lb pitcher still has time to grow some more, and pack some more muscle on, which will only help to make his arsenal more deadly.

We’re still a few years away from Barria making any impact at the upper levels of the farm system, or even the MLB level, but his youth gives the Halos plenty of reason not to rush things. With some more work, some more consistent innings pitched under his belt against top competition, and the help of the Angels’ developmental staff, Barria has the potential to be a sneaky good starting pitcher at the MLB level.

Expectations were tempered as he went into the hitter-friendly Cal League (not to mention being 3 years younger than league average), but Barria is already past that. He pitched well (11 GS, 65.1 innings, 7.85 K/9, 1.79 BB/9, 0.934 WHIP, 2.48 ERA, 3.96 FIP), so well that the Angels figured he needed to be challenged more.

Barria is the fifth youngest player in the AA Southern League and had a nice first start yesterday, going 5 23 innings with 1 earned run given up, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk, and 1 HR. Considering he’s now four and a half years older than league average, he’s only getting started.

We at Halos Heaven have him as our 9th prospect overall, behind Alex Meyer, Nate Smith, Keynan Middleton, Grayson Long, and tied with Chris Rodriguez. In hindsight, that was far too low, for the Panama native continues to surpass expectations. He has been tracking like a pitchability starter, but continued strong starts suggest he can be more than that. They also point to an improvement in command and changeup feel, garnering weak contact and easy outs.

His promotion is to double-A is a big deal. If he does well, he could begin 2018 at triple-A, putting him in conversation for a callup later in the year. Or he could spend next year at Salt Lake, and be in conversation for the 2019 rotation, which seems the far more likely scenario. Either way, Barria will be a welcome sight in Anaheim and at this rate, it’s just a matter of time until he gets his shot.