Shortstop Franklin Barreto is the second-highest ranked prospect in the Oakland Athletics system, and it shouldn’t be long before the A’s begin to hear about him more often.
Barreto, who was acquired in the Josh Donaldson trade with the Blue Jays last winter, has made quite an impression with the Stockton Ports. He’s batting .299/.330/.497, after stealing eight bases and hitting 12 home runs in the first 87 games of the season.
Barreto, who is only 19 years old, is the type of player that can make a major impact on the A’s organization. Whether he can stay at shortstop is another matter. His arm is more than sufficient to play the position, but he’s no Addison Russell when it comes to defensive instincts. He’s made an astonishing 34 errors this season, and he certainly had plenty of room for improvement in the field.
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Making 34 errors in half a season sounds far worse than it truly is for a High-A player. There’s a reason that players at that level haven’t yet moved up to Double- or Triple-A, where the more polished players work on the finer points of their games. High-A is full of teenagers like Barreto, who don’t have the experience of someone drafted out of college. While the shortstop gained plenty of experience in Venezuela, he hadn’t played in a professional or collegiate organization prior to begin drafted in 2013.
While his defense can certainly stand some improvement, his offense is ready to push him to the next level. Last season, Barreto spent the year with Low-A Vancouver, where he was even more outstanding at the plate than he has been in 2015. He batted .311/.384/.481 and swiped 29 bags in his first full minor league season. His speed and ability to hit for average is his ticket to the big leagues, and while he certainly won’t be a part of the A’s this season, or even likely next year, he will be a valuable infield option down the road.
Perhaps a move to second base is what he needs. While shortstops are infinitely more useful than second basemen, it’s possible that his instincts just aren’t going to develop there. Eric Sogard will become a free agent after the 2016 season, so the A’s will need a second baseman as they head into 2017. Marcus Semien, on the other hand, has a long way to go before his free agency arrives. It might be a good idea to get Barreto some reps at second base, and see if his defense improves enough that he can make an impact on the major league club much sooner than expected.
There isn’t much in the A’s farm system to be excited about, but Barreto is certainly someone to look forward to. With a couple more years of development, he will be a very key player for the Oakland Athletics.