Yhonathan Barrios wasn’t very highly regarded when he was first traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, but that all changed after his highly impressive debut in the organization. With little mound experience and seen mainly as a lottery ticket, the Brewers appear to have hit the jackpot in the hard throwing Barrios. Here is a look at why he ranks 23rd on our prospect list.
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Barrios’ professional career began in 2009 at the age of 17 when he was an infielder in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system. But after years of not doing much at the plate, the kid with a cannon for an arm was converted to the mound in 2013 due to his power fastball that he can register into the upper 90’s.
Here Barrios has seen much better success. In three seasons as a pitcher, in the minors, Barrios has been excellent, posting a 3.12 ERA in nearly 130 innings of work. Coming to AA Biloxi in July after the trade, Barrios shined seeing times not only as a late inning arm, but also an occasional closer.
He pitched so well that he not only got a promotion to AAA Colorado Springs, but even saw time pitching in Milwaukee. In his five outings with the Brewers to close out the year, Barrios showed a glimpse of what he could bring to the future by striking out seven in his 7.2 scoreless innings.
Barrios isn’t perfect and still needs to improve on his secondary pitches to be fully effective in the major leagues, but his presence in future Brewers’ bullpens can help to make a team strength even stronger. While there is a good chance that he doesn’t start the year with the team in 2016, I expect to see him pitching in a role similar to Corey Knebel by mid-season. The Brewers’ bullpen is already chalked-full of hard throwing, tough arms, but if Barrios can continue to develop the Brewers could be one of the toughest teams to beat late in games for years to come.