TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels pitching prospect Jaime Barria was among the players sent down to Minor League camp on Saturday, but chances are that he'll be back with the big league club at some point this season.The 21-year-old right-hander is considered one of the most advanced arms in the Angels'
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels pitching prospect Jaime Barria was among the players sent down to Minor League camp on Saturday, but chances are that he'll be back with the big league club at some point this season.
The 21-year-old right-hander is considered one of the most advanced arms in the Angels' farm system and is coming off a breakthrough season that saw him climb from Class A Advanced Inland Empire to Triple-A Salt Lake. In November, the Angels added Barria to their 40-man roster, putting him a step closer to the Majors.
"It was really special since it's where all ballplayers want to be," Barria said in Spanish before being optioned to Triple-A on Saturday. "I got the opportunity because of the year that I had, so I'm going to keep working hard to try to reach the Majors as soon as possible."
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Signed out of Panama for $60,000 in 2013, Barria posted a 2.80 ERA over 141 2/3 innings with 117 strikeouts and 31 walks across three Minor League levels last season. He has a three-pitch mix that includes a low-90s fastball, a changeup with good deception and movement, and an 82-83 mph breaking ball. Barria is ranked the Angels' No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline, which also rated his control as one of the best tools in the club's farm system.
"He's got great presence, really good command and can throw three or four pitches in any count," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He knows how to pitch."
• Spring Training info
After earning his first invitation to Major League camp, Barria was able to test himself against big league hitters in three Cactus League appearances this spring. He had a rough debut against the Padres on Feb. 26, when he allowed three runs on five hits -- including two home runs -- over 1 2/3 innings, but he rebounded by posting four scoreless innings over his next two outings.
"My first outing, I was kind of surprised to put up a bad line," Barria said. "After that, I started to adapt, and my last outing went well, thanks to God."
Barria will likely open the season in the Triple-A rotation, but he'll be a key piece on the organizational depth chart and should be ready to contribute in Anaheim soon.
"It feels good," Barria said. "I'm happy with the job that I've done. It hasn't been easy. I spent five years in the Minors to get here, so I'm going to keep working for what's to come."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.
Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.