It probably wasn’t the way the Oakland Athletics planned it, but top prospect Franklin Barreto is heading to the big leagues. The talented middle infielder will join the A’s for their second game against the Chicago White Sox after the A’s placed utilityman Chad Pinder on the 10-day DL with a hamstring strain. Barreto will make his major league debut at age 21.
Barreto joined the A’s in the Josh Donaldson trade before the 2015 season. The then 19-year-old spent the entire 2015 season with the High-A Stockton Ports, batting .302/.333/.500 in 90 games despite hitting under .200 in April. His season was cut short by a thumb injury.
In 2016, Barreto jumped to Double-A Midland, where he slotted next to eventual Texas League MVP Matt Chapman on the left side of the RockHounds’ infield. Barreto got off to a slow start once again but recovered to hit .281/.340/.413 with 10 homers in 119 games before joining the Nashville Sounds for the final week of the regular season and the post-season. He hit .353 in four regular season games for the Sounds and then batted .421 in five post-season games.
That fall, Barreto participated in the Arizona Fall League. He had some brilliant moments for the Mesa Solar Sox but hit only .261/.278/.330 with 21 strike-outs and two walks. Barreto was added to the A’s 40-man roster in November.
This season, Barreto got off to a red-hot start for Nashville, batting .333/.394/.540 in April. He began to slump in mid-May and that slump extended into June. During one stretch, Barreto went a full month without drawing a walk. He has been hitting better over the past 10 days, however, batting .351 with five walks in 37 at-bats. Overall, Barreto comes to the A’s with a .281/.326/.428 line with eight homers in 68 games for Nashville.
Earlier this season, Sounds’ hitting coach Eric Martins talked about how Barreto is a unique talent.
“People ask me about him all of the time and all I can say is that he is special. He does something everyday that amazes you that he is 21-years-old and that he can be playing at this level. The kid can really hit,” Martins said. “He has electric hands. He’s strong. He can run. He has done an outstanding job on defense this year. There’s still a lot of talk that he might move to second base, but he’s done a pretty good job at shortstop. He’s really worked at it.
“One of the best things about him is that he works. He doesn’t sit back on his talent. He really works on his craft. We get in the cage and do early work. With him, it’s about finding a consistent approach.”
Pinder lands on the DL after straining his left hamstring during the A’s 3-0 win over the White Sox on Friday night. Pinder was batting .234/289/.490 with nine homers at the time of his injury.
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