Brandon Barriera was projected by many MLB draft experts to be well off the board by the time the Toronto Blue Jays selected at 23rd overall on Sunday. Instead, the hard-throwing left-hander remained available and became the latest intriguing arm in the Blue Jays' prospect pool.
The 18-year-old out of American Heritage School in Florida seems to be using his perceived snub as motivation as he gets ready to embark on his professional career.
"Looking at those 22 teams before me, they're going to regret this," Barriera said on the MLB Network broadcast shortly after being drafted. "I'm going to become the best pitcher in MLB."
In addition to his upper-90s fastball and four-pitch mix, that confidence and competitive spirit Barriera displayed on the draft floor was another factor that impressed the Blue Jays in the scouting process.
"The compete level is something we definitely noticed and that drew us to him," Blue Jays amateur scouting director Shane Farrell said following the selection. "We look forward to seeing that play out on the field and in our uniform."
Despite falling several picks below where he might have expected, Barriera is excited about the opportunity in front of him with the Blue Jays, who have showed a willingness to give opportunities to their young players, whether at the big-league level or with challenging minor-league assignments.
"I'm glad they picked me...," Barriera told Sportsnet's Shi Davidi. "When you look at their team, they play their young guys, they're not scared to bring up their young guys. That's something that I would love to be a part of."
One of those examples Barriera is referring to is All-Star pitcher Alek Manoah, who logged just 35 innings in the minor leagues before getting called to the majors in 2021. Perhaps it should come as no surprise Manoah is the Blue Jays player Barriera is most looking forward to meeting.
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