Baseball Prospectus is teasing its eponymous Annual by releasing BP's Top 101 prospects list, and three Oakland Athletics have earned honors this year, up from one who reported to spring camp with the club in 2015. All three have arrived via trade in the last 14 months.
#26 Franklin Barreto, shortstop
The returnee is shortstop prospect Franklin Barreto, who turns 20 in February. He moves from #74 to #26 on the strength of a bat that hit .302/.333/.500, a 122 wRC+ in the California League.
Defensively, he is more of a mixed bag. Barreto has the arm for shortstop, but there are questions about whether he will develop the instincts and actions for the position. The bat looks like it will play elsewhere on the infield, even if the approach will confuse the people who think Moneyball was only about taking walks.
On whether Barreto can stick at shortstop, A's general manager David Forst said Sunday at FanFest:
I think anytime you have a season the way he did and you make 30+ errors [at shortstop], it's hard to sort of have that confidence. ... But he's 19 years old. And the list of guys - whether it's [Eric] Chavez or [Miguel] Tejada - who made 30+ errors in the Cal League and then went on to do just fine, it's a long list. And everybody believes that Franklin has the athleticism and the fundamentals to play shortstop if we decide that's where he should be.
(Thanks to Bill Moriarity at Athletics Farm for the transcription.)
Franklin Barreto appears to be on track for a successful move up the ladder to break into the major leagues at a pretty young age. A bone bruise he suffered to his wrist caused him to miss five weeks, but he has made up that time between the Cal League postseason and winter ball. Here's to a good Double-A campaign in 2016.
#45 Sean Manaea, left-handed pitcher
Sean Manaea also returns, jumping up from #85 when he was with the Royals to #45. Last year, BP said he "could be a fast mover if he can hold his mechanics together." An abdominal injury only got him to just over 110 innings if you throw in postseason and Arizona Fall League, and concerns about consistency keep him from ranking higher. It's otherwise a pretty glowing report:
Manaea certainly looks the part of a top pitching prospect. He's got the prototypical workhorse-starter build. The fastball can touch 97 from the left side and sits comfortably plus with good movement. He complements that with a slider and change, both of which could be at least average.
The A's have planned their season with Manaea at least starting the year in Triple-A, David Forst told us Sunday, though he also mentioned he had those same plans with Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill the years they broke spring camp on the roster.
#66 Jacob Nottingham, catcher
Jacob Nottingham breaks into the BP Top 101 at #66 after a strong year at the plate at age 20 that earned him a promotion from Low-A to High-A. Some concern remains about his plate blocking skills, and he's been playing some first base too just in case his bat continues to pull him up through the levels faster than his catching can.
Behind the plate he's a mixed bag, with a strong arm but raw receiving skills. Prep catchers can take longer to develop, and the happy dreams of a 20-homer catcher are enough to give Nottingham more time behind the dish.
Nottingham should move up to Double-A this year, where the pitcher-friendly Texas League will give him a challenge.
Just doing a quick look around the AL West: the Rangers have five in the Top 101 (two in the top 10 with their third at #15), the Astros five (none higher than Alex Bregman at #39), the Mariners one at #94, and the Angels none.
But hey, the A's pick sixth overall in the draft this year, their first single digit pick since drafting Barry Zito ninth in 1999 and Mark Mulder second in 1998. There may be a new Athletics organization name or two in this Top 101 next year.