When Jaime Barria takes the field this afternoon at the 2017 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Miami, he'll be representing not only the Angels, but also his native Panama.Barria, a 20-year-old right-hander, will be one of 25 players to suit up for the World Team at Marlins Park in the
When Jaime Barria takes the field this afternoon at the 2017 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Miami, he'll be representing not only the Angels, but also his native Panama.
Barria, a 20-year-old right-hander, will be one of 25 players to suit up for the World Team at Marlins Park in the annual showcase of Minor League talent. His nationality will only distinguish him further, as he will be the lone Panamanian among their ranks. Fans can watch the event live at 1 p.m. PT on MLB Network and MLB.com.
"I'm really happy to represent Panama and elevate my country's profile," Barria said in a Spanish-language phone interview. "There are a lot of ballplayers that want to be there, and I want to open doors for them, too."
:: 2017 Futures Game coverage ::
The Angels have not invested heavily in Latin America in recent years, but Barria has emerged as one of their most promising prospects to enter the organization by way of the international market. Signed for $60,000 out of Panama City in 2013, Barria was named the Angels' Pitching Prospect of the Year in 2016 and has continued to rise through the club's farm system this season.
Barria, ranked the Halos' No. 8 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, opened the year with Class A Advanced Inland Empire, where he recorded a 2.48 ERA over 65 1/3 innings before being promoted to Double-A Mobile in June.
Though he's young for his level, Barria has continued to pitch well for Mobile, logging a 1.78 ERA over 30 1/3 innings.
"It's a little different," Barria said of his transition to Double-A. "Here there are stronger hitters who can hit for power and are a little closer to playing in the big leagues. But I've adapted quickly. I've had good starts here, and I feel good."
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Barria features a three-pitch mix, wielding a low-90s fastball with good life, a deceptive changeup and a curveball. The Angels have always loved his ability to command the zone, but Barria said much of his success this season is due to his improved curveball, which he feels he can now throw for strikes more consistently. The development of that pitch has helped Barria miss more bats this season, as he's averaging 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings, up from 6.0 in 117 innings for Class A Burlington in 2016.
The Angels have a number of Futures Game alums on their current roster, including Michael Trout, Tyler Skaggs, Ben Revere and Danny Espinosa.
"My curveball has helped me a lot," Barria said. "My problem used to be when I had to throw the curveball for a strike, but now I can command it. That's why I've struck out a lot of hitters this year."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.