Catcher Tres Barrera joined the Nationals this past week after the elbow injury to Kurt Suzuki. Barrera, the former University of Texas standout, was born in Eagle Pass, Texas, which is less than one mile from the United States/Mexico border along the Rio Grande. The 24-year-old is a 2016 draft selection for the Nationals and played 101 games for Double-A Harrisburg this season.
He was pleasantly surprised to get the call to join the Nats.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Barrera said. “It’s every kids’ dream since I started playing baseball. ... It’s crazy. I still couldn’t believe it. Tears were everywhere. Everybody was so happy. Can’t thank my parents enough. Can’t thank God enough for getting the opportunity to play this game and allowed me to be here today.”
“Those guys have played at the highest level, Barrera said. “I haven’t played at the highest level yet. I just try to pick their brain. What works, what doesn’t work. You see the best hitters in the game. How can I prepare myself down here to when I get there to have success? They did a great job. They were really open to what I thought of as well. Those guys are class acts. I enjoyed working with them.”
He also caught reliever Aaron Barrett, who the night before Barrera arrived had made his return to the major leagues after four years away due to multiple injuries and rehabs.
“It brought chills and tears to me because I saw the way he worked each and every day,” Barrera said. “And what he was putting into his comeback. When I got drafted he had just started to come back. He was working harder than anybody in the building. To see him back here is an inspiration, not only to me but a lot of baseball players out there.”
Barrera hit .249 with 23 doubles, eight homers and 46 RBIs this season. He said the adjustments he made from college to the pros have paid dividends.
“Just trying to be a complete hitter,” Barrera said. “Early on in my career I felt like I was just a pull-happy guy when I was in college. Just using the whole field and try to put together a quality at-bat. Give my team a chance whether it’s a walk, hit, moving guys over. At the end of the day just want to help our team win and that’s where we are at on this team. Every day is important. Got to do everything you can to win the baseball game.”
With Suzuki’s elbow MRI coming back clean, Barrera may not get that much playing time, but it is great to recognize his story too because he just one season removed from high Single-A Potomac. Hopefully, Barrera can get in some games this week in Minnesota and make his major league debut.