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Oakland A's 2016 Community Prospect List #3: Which position will Franklin Barreto play?

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Barreto's defensive future should become less blurry in 2016.
Barreto's defensive future should become less blurry in 2016.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Franklin Barreto narrowly missed out on the top spot in our Community Prospect List, by a margin of 12 votes out of nearly 1,000 (~1.3% winning margin). It was so close that, after the official voting ended, he actually took the lead in the poll (no, that doesn't count). Therefore, it comes as no surprise that he ran away with the No. 2 spot on the list -- he's at 81% out of ~560 votes, for a winning margin of 70% over the runner-up. The current list, including their winning margins (the amount by which they won their elections, defined as a percentage of the total vote):

1. Sean Manaea, LHP (+1%)
2. Franklin Barreto, SS/CF (+70%)

In other words, the top two spots are more like 1A and 1B, especially since they are particularly incomparable players. One is a pitcher and the other a hitter, and they're at different levels of development with one challenging for MLB this summer and the other only just graduating from the lower minors (as well as his own teenage years). They are the proverbial apple and orange.

Barreto is likely to top most of the A's prospect lists we see in the coming months, and personally I would have ranked him No. 1 as well. But given that a legitimate argument can be made for Manaea at the top, I kind of like that our list will differ from other sources' -- the differentiation inherently adds interest to our version. In a Barreto-centric landscape, our list will serve as a reminder that there is margin for error in this kind of ranking since we're all just making educated guesses; that there is more than one way to judge a prospect's value; and that Manaea has the talent to be Oakland's top youngster despite the flaws that will drop him on other lists.

However, I think the biggest contributor to Barreto "falling" to second place is his defensive uncertainty. He had a brutal year at shortstop in terms of errors (a dumb stat, but all I have to judge by), both in Stockton and then in the Venezuelan Winter League (LVBP). There were already rumblings that he wouldn't stick at the position long-term, and the poor performance did nothing to soften that narrative. The story developed further when he began making starts in center field in the LVBP, and in this interview he claimed to have played outfield as a kid and said he feels more comfortable out there (h/t cerpy for the link, and JJ209 for the translation).

But really, there is no bad scenario here. Maybe he sticks as a shaky shortstop. Maybe he shifts over to second base, where many failed shortstops find homes. Maybe he moves out to center field. No matter what, he's projected to play an up-the-middle position, which is better than being forced to a corner, which in turn is better than being relegated to a DH. Renato Nunez has defensive question marks -- like, is there a position he can play well, at all? Barreto simply has multiple excellent options to choose from, like picking between the steak or the lobster. Sticking at SS is surely the optimal result, but not the only favorable one. And wherever he winds up, his bat is expected to be a huge asset there, as he hit quite well in High-A as a 19-year-old. He should open in Double-A this year,

One final note: Given that he played in the LVBP this winter, the bone bruise in his wrist that ended his 2015 season is clearly not an issue moving forward.

The next CPL will be out in a couple days, so waste any time making your nomination(s) and casting your vote!

Here is the process:

  • Five nominees will appear on the ballot. The one who receives the most votes earns the next spot on the CPL, while the remaining four players move on to the next ballot where they are joined by the next nominee.
  • In the comments, commenters will nominate a player to be put onto the ballot for the next round. After the first nomination for a player has been put in, all other votes for that player will come from Rec'ing that comment. The player with the most Rec's earns the nomination.
  • The format for the comment should be "Nomination: Player Name".
  • If a prospect is traded, his name will be crossed out, and all other players will be moved up a space. If a prospect is acquired, a special vote will be put up to determine where that player should rank.

★ ★ ★

The new nominee is shortstop Chad Pinder, who played so well for the Double-A Midland RockHounds last year that he was named Texas League Player of the Year for the eight-team league. He was once the third infield fiddle behind fellow prospects Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson, but with those two out of the picture he reclaimed the shortstop position and built on his quietly successful 2014 -- despite moving up a level, and from hitter-friendly Stockton to pitcher-friendly Midland to boot, his numbers generally improved across the board last year. There are long-term questions about his plate discipline and his ability to stick at shortstop, but every prospect has questions. They don't all have breakout performances that earn them postseason awards. Pinder should open the season in Triple-A, just one step away from getting his shot in Oakland.

Chad Pinder, SS

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 24

2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 522 PAs, 135 wRC+, 15 HR, 5.4% BB, 19.7% Ks

From MLB.com:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

Thanks to his hand-eye coordination and bat speed, Pinder does a good job of putting the bat on the ball despite being something of a free swinger. He has some power, but his swing lends itself more to producing line drives than home runs.

Pinder was primarily a third baseman in college but also saw time at shortstop, and the A's have used him some at both positions. He moved to second base in 2014 in deference to Robertson, then shifted back to shortstop in 2015. Pinder's arm is strong enough for the left side of the infield, and his ability to play multiple positions will help him as he advances toward the Major Leagues in an organization that values versatility.

★ ★ ★

Here are our other current candidates:

Matt Olson, 1B/OF

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 22

2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 585 PAs, 132 wRC+, 17 HR, 17.9% BB, 23.8% Ks

From MLB.com:

Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 65 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

Olson's best tool is his power, and he finished third in the Minor Leagues with 37 home runs in 2014. He is also an extremely disciplined hitter, and his 117 walks led the Minors last year. While he has worked to shorten his swing, there will always be some swing-and-miss in his game, and he has struck out more than 135 times in each of his first two full professional seasons.

A two-way player in high school, Olson has above-average arm strength, and the A's have tried him in the outfield. He's also become a capable first baseman and has the power to profile at the position.

★ ★ ★

Matt Chapman, 3B

Expected level: Double-A| Age 23

2015 stats (High-A Stockton): 352 PAs, 139 wRC+, 23 HR, 11.1% BB, 22.4% Ks

From MLB.com:

Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 70 | Field: 60 | Overall: 50

Strong and athletic, Chapman possesses significant physical tools. Though his swing is geared for hitting line drives, he's improving his ability to get to his raw power during games. He did a good job of controlling the strike zone in college, but after striking out in 21 percent of his plate appearances during his debut, he still needs to show he can make consistent contact against professional pitching.

Chapman's hands, actions and arm strength make him an excellent defender at third base. If he can get to his power more consistently, he'll fit the third-base profile to a T.

★ ★ ★

Jacob Nottingham, C

Expected level: Double-A? High-A? | Age 21

2015 stats (High-A Stockton): 182 PAs, 107 wRC+, 3 HR, 6.6% BB, 20.9% Ks

From MLB.com:

Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Arm: 50 | Field: 40 | Overall: 50

Nottingham's power is his ticket to the big leagues. He's very strong and has a quick right-handed stroke, allowing him to drive balls great distances. He's improving his plate discipline and has a chance to become an average hitter.

Whether Nottingham can stay behind the plate remains to be seen, but he has gotten better as a catcher. He has enough arm strength but must continue to clean up his receiving. He also has seen time at first base.

★ ★ ★

Renato Nunez, 1B/3B

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 22

2015 stats (Double-A Midland): 416 PAs, 124 wRC+, 18 HR, 6.7% BB, 15.9% Ks

From MLB.com:

Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50

Thanks to the bat speed Nunez produces, he has significant raw power and is capable of driving the ball out to all fields. Like many young hitters, his approach is a bit inconsistent, and he can get caught up trying to pull everything. But when he's at his best, he uses the whole field to hit and does a good job of hunting fastballs he can drive.

Defensively, Nunez remains a work in progress. He's shown signs he's getting better and dramatically cut down on his errors in 2014. The A's began playing him some at first base for the first time in 2015.

★ ★ ★

Vote in the poll below for your favorite of the five, and post your nomination(s) in the comments!