According to Oakland A’s beat reporter Martín Gallegos on twitter, the A’s are calling up outfield prospect Luis Barrera. Barrera, the A’s 7th ranked prospect and highest ranked outfield prospect in the team’s system according to MLB Pipeline, slashed .349/.429/.558 with two home runs for a 151 wRC+ in the 11 games he played at Triple-A this season prior to being called up. An extremely physically gifted prospect, Barrera has elite speed and a plus arm that helped him rack up 7 outfield assists in 786.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Barrera’s fielding also grades out as plus, with the potential to be an above average center fielder or an elite corner outfielder. As a left handed hitter, Barrera sprays ground balls around the field and uses his premier speed to leg out doubles and triples. Lack of thump has regularly been a criticism of Barrera, only thrice having an ISO above .150 at any level in his career and never hitting more than 7 home runs in a season. Barrera also doesn’t walk at a significant enough level to offset his lower power numbers. Prior to 2021, Barrera never had a walk rate above 9.1% and has a 7.0% walk rate outside of rookie ball. Barrera did raise his walk rate to 12.2% in his truncated season at triple A this year, and if he can maintain a walk rate closer to that in the majors, he’s likely to be a more stable and successful performer. Still, he’s likely to remain much closer to his career numbers.
In order to recall Barrera, DH/1B Mitch Moreland was placed on the IL. Moreland has missed the A’s last two games with a side strain. The fact that Barrera would be replacing a DH and first baseman rather than an outfielder complicates how he will fit into the A’s plans. Barrera doesn’t play first base, and a lot of Barrera’s value comes from his fielding. The A’s already have four outfielders on their active roster, and that number goes up to six if you include utility men Tony Kemp and Chad Pinder. With the exception of Stephen Piscotty, all are above average defenders. Seth Brown and Mark Canha both have experience playing first base, so a backup first baseman isn’t a concern, and both can potentially DH, but there’s still a logjam in the A’s outfield that limits Barrera’s opportunities to play. The path to playing time for Barrera lies in the A’s upcoming three game series against the Houston Astros. Houston has just two left handed pitchers on their active roster, none of which are starters. Stephen Piscotty has been the A’s primary right fielder this season, but he has just a 76 wRC+ against righties since the start of 2019. Against the Astros and their bevy of right handed pitchers, he is going to struggle. That makes the left handed Barrera a much better option against the Astros. Barrera can patrol the right field of Minute-Maid Park, allowing one of Seth Brown and Mark Canha to DH while the other plays left field.