Signed for $450,000 back in July 2012, Barrera hasn’t exactly taken a rapid or direct path to the big leagues. He didn’t reach full-season ball until late in 2016, but then things started happening a bit more quickly for the outfielder after that, playing across two levels in both 2017 and 2018, earning a spot on the 40-man roster following that ’18 season that saw him reach Double-A. A 2019 season that could have led to the final jump to the big leagues was interrupted and eventually ended in late June because of an injury to his non-throwing shoulder that eventually required surgery.
Even when he was trying to play through his injury, Barrera was still doing what he does best: hit. The left-handed hitter is aggressive at the plate and makes a ton of contact with a line-drive, slashing kind of approach. He doesn’t walk a ton, but he also doesn’t strike out much. He’s never going to be a big home run guy, but he has shown the ability to hit the gaps on a regular basis, with his extra-base thump showing up more in Double-A last year. Barrera is a plus runner who can steal a base and is as aggressive on the basepaths as he is at the plate.
Barrera’s passion for the game shows up on defense as well and his shoulder injury wasn’t helped by diving for balls in the outfield. He’s probably best suited for an outfield corner, where his above-average arm plays well, but he’s also shown the ability to play center field if needed and the A’s love how fearless he is. He might break in as a fourth outfielder, but he has the ability to be a big league regular on both sides of the ball if the opportunity arises.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 35 | Run: 65 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Barrera was the biggest international sign by the A's in the 2012-13 signing period, with his $450,000 bonus in July 2012 the top among five players who received six figures from the organization. He's moved methodically, not touching full-season ball until his fourth summer in 2016. Since then, he's earned in-season promotions in '17 and '18 and really jumped more firmly on the prospect map by hitting his way to Double-A in '18 and earning a spot on the 40-man roster.
Perhaps the most improved player in the organization, Barrera came into his own in 2018 in terms of his approach and consistency in his at-bats. With a line-drive, slashing style, Barrera is showing he has the ability to hit for average with excellent bat control, a decrease in his strikeout rate and an increased willingness to draw walks. He won't be a home run hitter because of his flat bat path, but there could be a bit more pop to unlock at some point. Aggressive with good instincts, Barrera uses his speed well to steal bases. He also uses it to play all three outfield positions and his defensive play has improved nearly as much as his bat has.
Barrera does have the tools to play center field regularly. If his step forward offensively is for real, he could shed the fourth outfielder profile and become a regular in the big leagues.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 35 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Signed in July 2012 out of the Dominican Republic, Barrera spent his first three pro seasons in Rookie ball before finally advancing to a full-season level for the first time in 2016. He scuffled a bit the following year, receiving a mid-season demotion from the Class A Advanced California League back to Class A Clinton, but rebounded with a breakout 2018 campaign in which he established career highs in most offensive categories. Barrera continued to perform well in the Arizona Fall League, and the A's added him to the 40-man roster after the season.
Barrera makes a lot of contact from the left side of the plate, where he employs an open setup with a flat swing that enables him to spray the ball across the whole field. While it does limit his power potential, Barrera has a knack for finding the gaps and uses his plus speed to take extra bases when possible. That speed also makes Barrera a capable center fielder, and he has the requisite arm strength needed to play right field.
With his left-handed bat, speed and defensive versatility, Barrera has the makings of becoming a future bench outfielder at the highest level. If he can make further strides as a hitter, and possibly add some power to his game, he could take on a greater role.