In 2008, the Pittsburgh Pirates made a few minor splashes in the international market, spending $1 M between Exicardo Cayonez, Jodaneli Carvajal, and Yhonathan Barrios. Barrios, signed for $250 K out of Colombia, didn’t get off to the best start in 2009 with the VSL Pirates. He hit for a .241/.309/.346 line. Yet his talent was enough for the Pirates to promote him to the US for the 2010 season. Unfortunately, Barrios suffered a hamate injury, and missed the entire season.
Barrios was signed as a shortstop, although he has a stocky build, at 5′ 11″, 179 pounds. That, plus the emergence of Alen Hanson, has led Barrios to play second and third base this year in the Gulf Coast League. Yhonathan has good bat speed, which could give him the ability to hit for power down the line. His ultimate position will be second or third base, and where he ends up will probably depend on him hitting for power.
Barrios hasn’t hit for much power so far. Yesterday he homered for the GCL Pirates, his first of the year. It is important to keep in mind that hamate surgery can sap a player’s power for at least a year. The GCL is also a very pitcher friendly league. For those reasons, we’re unlikely to see Barrios displaying much power at this stage in his career. What has been encouraging is his hot start at the plate. He’s hitting for a .375/.474/.604 line this year. The power that he has shown in his first 48 at-bats has been in the form of doubles (2) and triples (3). Barrios also has five stolen bases in five attempts.
It’s always a long path from the GCL to the majors, and players who are this far down are no guarantee to make it. For that reason, it’s almost impossible to project what type of player Barrios can become, mostly because we don’t even know what type of player he will be in two or three years, as the difference between 19 and 21-22 for a developing prospect can be huge. He’s definitely on the prospect radar at this point, joining fellow international GCL teammates like Carvajal and Hanson as potential promising infield prospects of the future.