Mobile pitching coach Buddy Carlyle had a good idea of what to expect from Jaime Barria when he was promoted to Double-A, but the reality has exceeded the lofty expectations.
Barria allowed two hits and retired the last 16 batters en route to the first complete game and shutout of his career in Mobile's 1-0 win over Tennessee in the nightcap of a doubleheader on Friday night at Hank Aaron Stadium. The BayBears took the opener, 3-2.
"Barria's been doing an amazing job. [Class A Advanced pitching coach Michael] Wuertz did a great job with him at Inland Empire," Carlyle said. "He's very advanced for his age and has a tremendous feel for pitching and a good feel for the game. He understands his body really well and has a very unique ability as a 20-year-old to command his off-speed pitches, which really helps him out."
Video: Mobile's Barria records sixth strikeout
In only his third start since being promoted to the Southern League on June 4, Barria (1-1) gave up a two-out double to David Bote in the first and another to Cael Brockmeyer with one out in the second.
The Angels' No. 8 prospect did not allow another baserunner over his final 5 2/3 innings and fired 56 of 82 pitches for strikes. Barria struck out six and didn't walk a batter while lowering his ERA with the BayBears to 0.92 in 19 2/3 innings.
"Everything I was told prior to him joining us was right on par with what I've seen," Carlyle said. "He works hard every day. He has a plan and executes it. He throws his pitches with conviction and understands exactly what he wants to do when he's out there.
"He had the hitters off-balance tonight, and when you have the ability to throw all of your pitches for strikes, it puts the hitters in a difficult spot with not knowing what to expect. His fastball has enough life on it that when he has a good changeup working like he did today, it's very difficult for the hitters."
Video: Mobile's Barria completes the shutout
The 20-year-old posted a 2.48 ERA in 11 starts with the 66ers to start the year. Since the promotion, Barria has surrendered one run or fewer in all three starts after doing so five times in the California League. Overall, the native of Panama has a 2.12 ERA and has fanned 73 against 16 walks in 85 innings this season. Barria is averaging a career-high 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings, up from six per nine in 117 innings with Class A Burlington in 2016.
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"He definitely has the ability to be a strikeout pitcher," said Carlyle, a big leaguer for nine years. "He attacks hitters but because he has some great off-speed stuff, he gets a lot of early contact because the hitters don't want to fall behind. He doesn't pitch into many deep counts and that in turn allows him to pitch deeper into games. I'm sure the strikeouts will continue to rise as he moves forward."
Jose Briceno's infield single scored Angels No. 9 prospect David Fletcher with the game's only run in the sixth.
Cubs 29th-ranked prospect Preston Morrison (0-7) allowed one run, four hits and three walks with two strikeouts in his first career complete game for the Smokies.
Fletcher's RBI single in the bottom of the seventh gave Mobile a walk-off win in the opener.