Tres Barrera Enjoys His First Big League Camp
It has been anything but an offseason for Tres Barrera, who played in the Arizona Fall League, caught for Roger Clemens in the University of Texas alumni game and worked with the Nationals’ pitching staff as a non-roster invitee to spring training.
The 24-year-old Barrera said Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and the other Washington pitchers "have all been very welcoming” in big league camp. Barrera, who hit .263/.334/.386 in 259 at-bats at high Class A Potomac last season, was in a corner of the locker room alongside fellow minor leaguer Taylor Gushue and five catchers with major league experience in Yan Gomes, Kurt Suzuki, Spencer Kieboom, Raudy Read and Pedro Severino.
“It’s great just to be here with some of the best guys in baseball,” said Barrera, who also mentioned that playing in the Arizona Fall League "was a stepping stone to get me where I am now, and that prepared me for coming here.”
Barrera found out in early January that he would participate in major league camp. It was a nice reward for the 2016 sixth-round pick, who had evenly split catching duties with Jakson Reetz at Potomac last season.
“I split time, but I felt like it prepared me for what could come in the future,” Barrera said. “I went into every day preparing like I’m going to play. You have to develop yourself.”
In 2017, Barrera had been limited to 237 at-bats with low Class A Hagerstown because of a broken finger on his throwing hand.
“He’s really improved in all phases, particularly with his receiving and throwing efficiency,” Nationals farm director Mark Scialabba said. “He has a very consistent work ethic, is extremely disciplined and is focused on what’s in front of him.”
Barrera was an all-state shortstop as a junior at Sharyland High School in Mission, Texas, and he moved to catcher for his senior season. He said scouts considered him an offense-first catcher at that time, but now he has a defense-first reputation. Last year, he threw out 49 percent of basestealers in the high Class A Carolina League.
The righthanded-hitting Barrera is focusing on finding a consistent swing, and then he feels like more power will come in time.
“He continues to make adjustments on the offensive side of the ball as well, focusing on shortening up his swing and using the whole field,” Scialabba said. “We’re very excited about his progress and are looking forward to him taking the next steps on both sides of the ball with his development.”
— Infielder Jake Noll, another 24-year-old non-roster invitee, began spring training 6-for-7 with two doubles and a home run at the plate. The Florida Gulf Coast alum had his own cheering section when the Nationals played the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla. Noll was a seventh-round pick in 2016.
— A crowd of about 1,000 was on hand for the groundbreaking of a new stadium in Fredericksburg, Va. The Potomac Nationals franchise plans to move there for the 2020 season, and the team will have a contest to come up with the team's new nickname.