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Oakland A's prospects: Franklin Barreto gaining versatility in Venezuela

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The Athletics are signaling that Barreto's bat will play anywhere. Is he Oakland's super-utility prospect?

Top Oakland Athletics prospect Franklin Barreto will get some time at second base next season, most likely in Double-A Midland, A's general manager David Forst told CSN California's Joe Stiglich on Tuesday, saying "the team has expressed to Barreto the importance of being versatile." Barreto, 19, is playing winter league baseball in Venezuela where he has split time between shortstop, left field, and center field.

Usually, news that a shortstop prospect is moving off of his position is met with dismay at the prospect losing the defensive value inherent at being able to play a competent shortstop. In this case, however, letting Barreto move around the diamond creates some breathing room in what appears to be a fairly jammed up shortstop pipeline for Oakland. Here are the shortstops in the MLB.com Top 30 A's prospects:

Rank Prospect
2016
Age
Expected
Level
MLB.com defense notes
1 Franklin Barreto 20 AA He has good range and a strong arm, but he's very erratic and lacks the natural actions of a shortstop.
4 Richie Martin 22 A+ With his quickness, range and arm strength, Martin can make all the plays needed from a shortstop.
7 Chad Pinder 24 AAA Pinder's arm is strong enough for the left side of the infield, and his ability to play multiple positions will help him.
13 Yairo Munoz 21 AA/A+ Defensively, he has a chance to remain at shortstop. His quickness gives him good lateral range to go with his strong arm.
15 Mikey White 22 A+/A While he's not flashy or rangy at shortstop, he has dependable hands and makes routine plays. Second base is probably his best position.

There's a good chance all five of these players will play in the top three levels of Oakland's farm system. Munoz only played 39 games for the Stockton Ports in 2015, but his .852 OPS at that level was behind only third baseman Matt Chapman and just ahead of Barreto himself (.833).

Giving Barreto the positional flexibility early in his development to move off of shortstop will enable the A's to move both players forward, an assessment CSN's Stiglich seems to agree with:

Meanwhile, it sounds like Mikey White will ultimately end up off of shortstop as he advances through the system with Richie Martin's draft class, making the primary shortstop prospects Pinder in Nashville, Munoz and Barreto in Midland, and Martin in Stockton. Pinder just hit the fourth home run of his abbreviated Arizona Fall League campaign, by the way, getting there in just his seventh game.