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Oakland A’s 2018 Community Prospect List #2: Franklin Barreto has almost arrived

The infielder made his MLB debut last year and could show up again this summer.

Jersey #1, CPL #2
Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

For the third time in the last four years, infielder Franklin Barreto is No. 2 on our Community Prospect List. He took a turn at the top last year, but otherwise he’s been runner-up behind the likes of Matt Olson, Sean Manaea, and now A.J. Puk. Here’s the current list, including their winning margins (the difference between his % of the vote, and the % of the runner-up):

  1. A.J. Puk, LHP (+62%)
  2. Franklin Barreto, SS (56%)

It’s been three years now since the Oakland A’s traded Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays. Up to this point all we’ve had to show for the loss of an MVP-level performer has been starter Kendall Graveman, who has been a solid role player but never much better than an average performer. Graveman’s most important contribution has been simple quantity, as he’s racked up the second-most innings on the team since 2015 (behind Sonny) and also since 2016 (behind Manaea) on a staff that has played perpetual patchwork due to injuries.

But after a long wait, there may be a new hope on the horizon. Barreto, the only lower-minors youngster in the deal, has climbed up the ladder all the way from High-A Stockton and maintained his Top 100 prospect stock the whole time. He made his MLB debut last summer at age 21 and homered in his second at-bat, and a couple weeks later he swatted a walk-off dinger. He didn’t put up big numbers overall in his brief stints but at least showed an occasional glimpse.

Unfortunately the bigger story of Barreto’s season was less positive, and it involved strikeouts. He whiffed at an alarming rate in Triple-A, with his aggressive approach backfiring and making him beatable. That’s an especially big problem given his skill set, as a bat-first player who relies more on making lots of contact than hitting for power. On the bright side it was also a new problem, and he did improve slightly on it as the year progressed. Solving it will be his top task this summer.

Despite being so close to the bigs, Barreto still has important questions to answer. Even if the strikeout issue fades away there’s still the matter of which position he’ll end up playing, between SS and 2B. The good news is he’s still absurdly young, and the 2018 A’s are the perfect environment for a rookie to ease his way into the majors and figure himself out.

Here is the process:

  • Five candidates will be listed on the ballot. The voting will take place in the comments section. I will start with a comment listing all five players, and then I will respond to that with five new comments in the style of “Vote: Player Name” for each candidate. Please do not reply directly to the official “Vote” comments, so that the ballot can stay together in one group.
  • Choose your ONE favorite by Rec’ing the comment with his name. Please only vote for one. The player who receives the most Rec’s earns the next spot on the CPL, while the remaining four players move on to the next ballot where they are joined by a new nominee.
  • In the comments, below the official voting, the community will nominate players to be put onto the ballot for the next round. Similar to the ballot, I will start with a comment calling for nominations, which can then be made as a response to my comment. The format for your comment should be “Nomination: Player Name”.
  • After the first nomination for a player has been put in, all other votes for that player will come from Rec’ing his comment. The player with the most Rec’s earns the nomination.
  • 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 Austin Beck. The A’s earned the sixth overall pick in the draft in 2017 for the second year in a row, and this time they spent it on a high school outfielder with a huge ceiling. Beck has the tools to be a star on both sides of the ball, but first he’ll have to survive the long journey up from the lowest reaches of the minors. It will be several more years before we find out his fate, but the reward at the end could be substantial.

Scouting grades: MLB Pipeline
Scouting reports: John Sickels
Hitter average rates: 100 wRC+, 8.0% BB, 20.0% Ks

Austin Beck, OF

Expected level: Single-A | Age 19

2017 stats (RK): 174 PAs, 77 wRC+, 2 HR, 7 SB, 9.8% BB, 29.3% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

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

Broad tools stand out with 60 raw power, 60 speed, 60 arm; results did not match reputation in rookie ball due to contact problems and there are concerns about ability to hit for average and get on base at higher levels; high-upside certainly but risk profile seems a bit higher to me than commonly realized, thus a touch of conservatism with the grade. ETA 2022.

* * *

Jorge Mateo, SS

Expected level: Triple-A | Age 23

2017 stats (A+ NYY): 297 PAs, 98 wRC+, 28 SB, 5.4% BB, 26.6% Ks
2017 stats (AA NYY): 140 PAs, 147 wRC+, 11 SB, 10.7% BB, 22.9% Ks
2017 stats (AA OAK): 147 PAs, 133 wRC+, 13 SB, 6.1% BB, 22.4% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 80 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55

Exciting power/speed combination; approach is aggressive and we’ll have to see how his batting average and OBP hold up but he has multiple ways to hurt the opponent; versatile with the glove, good-enough at shortstop, has played well during trials at second base and center field; needs some time in Triple-A but a very intriguing player. ETA late 2018.

* * *

Jesus Luzardo, LHP

Expected level: Low-A | Age 20

2017 note: Returned from Tommy John surgery prior to July acquisition
2017 stats (A-): 2.00 ERA, 18 ip, 20 Ks, 4 BB, 1 HR, 2.93 FIP

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Curve: 50 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50

Can hit mid-90s, throws strikes, both curveball and change-up draw positive reviews; main issue now is building up stamina and proving health; possible comp: Gio Gonzalez. ETA 2020.

* * *

Sean Murphy, C

Expected level: Double-A | Age 23

2017 stats (A+): 178 PAs, 130 wRC+, 9 HR, 6.2% BB, 18.5% Ks
2017 stats (AA): 217 PAs, 69 wRC+, 4 HR, 9.7% BB, 15.7% Ks
2017 stats (AFL): 83 PAs, .310/.410/.366, 4 doubles, 10 BB, 9 Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

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

Excellent throwing arm and a reliable defensive catcher, will get to majors on his defense alone but future will depend on the bat; flashes above-average power and will draw walks but uncertain what his batting average will look like against the best pitching, has never hit particularly well with wood; some caution with the hitting is advisable but overall I like him. ETA 2019.

* * *

Dustin Fowler, OF

Expected level: MLB | Age 23

2017 stats (AAA NYY): 313 PAs, 138 wRC+, 13 HR, 13 SB, 4.8% BB, 20.1% Ks

MLB Pipeline grades and Sickels scouting report:

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

60-grade speed before the injury, 55 power; another hitter with aggressive approach that may be problematic against the best pitching; you can make a B+ case but my instincts hold me back a tad on this one. ETA 2018.

* * *

Vote in the comments below for your favorite of the five by Rec’ing his “Vote: (Player Name)” comment, and post your nomination(s) as well!