Barreto, just 20, has A's camp buzzing

'I love to see the confidence, and he definitely has that,' Melvin says of top prospect

Barreto, just 20, has A's camp buzzing

MESA, Ariz. -- Franklin Barreto speaks much like he swings, with absolute confidence and conviction. The A's top prospect, still just 20 and in his first big league camp, doesn't shy away from the spotlight. He relishes it, much to the delight of manager Bob Melvin.

"I love to see the confidence, and he definitely has that," Melvin said.

A's Spring Training info

Barreto, who grew up in Venezuela, has watched countryman Miguel Cabrera with fervor over the years, to the point where he's "always trying to be better than he is."

"That's the guy I kept an eye on and the way he is, the type of player he is," Barreto said in Spanish on Tuesday morning, with reliever Fernando Rodriguez acting as translator. "His hitting was the main focus, and I always wanted to be at his level or better in my head."

Upon learning of this, Melvin beamed.

"I'll take it right now," Melvin said. "I'll take Cabrera right now."

Top Prospects: Barreto, OAK

Barreto's power, though still developing, is striking. The 5-foot-9 infielder, acquired from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson deal, has already hit two home runs in seven spring at-bats, after totaling 13 with Class A Advanced Stockton last year despite spending six weeks on the disabled list with a wrist injury. He played in 90 games for the Ports, batting .302/.333/.500 with 38 extra-base hits.

"I watched some video of him, and you look at the numbers and say, 'Yeah, he's got some power.' Then you see him, watch him take BP and it's kinda surprising power for his stature," Melvin said. "But it's definitely there. It's mostly pull power right now, but it's not like he's done growing and filling out, either."

Barreto said he's "just trying to make good contact" and "just keeping up with what I've been doing these last few years, coming in confident and just trying to be the same guy I've been the last few years."

Breaking down A's Top 30 Prospects

That mindset has helped him tackle the early going of his first big league camp with much aplomb.

"I think I'm more impressed by that than anything else," Melvin said. "The talent level speaks for itself, but you see him out there in whatever we do, whether it's defensive drills, whether it's batting practice, [and] early on [he's having] really no conversations with everyone, and in a four-man group where it's him and three other guys, and it doesn't affect him at all, the way he goes about his business."

Barreto turns double play

Barreto said he grew up playing center field in Venezuela but was moved to shortstop when the Blue Jays signed him at age 16. Melvin views him as a "true shortstop" and likes the idea of keeping him there, even though the A's have considered playing him in center field.

"I know he's got the potential for some versatility, the way he moves around and so forth, and he did play a little outfield in winter ball, but you bring a 20-year-old kid into camp and it's his first one, you're going to keep him at the position he's most comfortable at," Melvin said.

"I like doing both," Barreto said, "but wherever they want me to play I'm going to do my best."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.