MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

A's top prospect Barreto rakes in Fall League win

A's top prospect Barreto rakes in Fall League win

MESA, Ariz. -- There were some serious middle-infield prospects on display at Sloan Park on Tuesday, and while the Yankees' Gleyber Torres might out-rank the A's Franklin Barreto, 17 to 42, on MLB Pipeline.com's Top 100 list, it was Barreto and his Mesa Solar Sox who came out on top with a 6-3 victory.

Hitting leadoff for Mesa, Barreto went 4-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, runs scored and stolen bases as Mesa improved to 4-3 with its second straight victory.

It was actually Torres, playing second for Scottsdale, who began the scoring with a long home run to left field with two outs in the first inning. Torres' solo shot traveled 422 feet and left the Yankees infielder's bat with an exit velocity of 105 mph, according to Trackman. Barreto made sure that 1-0 lead didn't last long with his legs.

Gameday

The 20-year-old singled to left off of Yankees starter James Kaprielian and promptly stole second. After Barreto moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Indians outfielder Greg Allen, Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Alford walked. Then the pair of Solar Sox pulled off a double steal with Alford swiping second and Barreto dashing home when Giants catcher Aramis Garcia threw through to second base.

Scottsdale briefly held a 2-1 lead in the second inning, until Barreto came up again. With two outs and two on, Barreto laced a double to right field that scored both runs and gave Mesa a 3-2 lead. The Scorpions tied it in the top of the seventh on a triple by Angels infielder David Fletcher, who scored on a wild pitch. But Barreto was right in the thick of things again during the Solar Sox's two-run seventh that gave them the lead for good.

Once again going the other way, Barreto singled to right field, moved to second on an Allen single and scored the go-ahead run on a ground ball by fellow A's infielder Max Schrock. He added an infield single in the eighth for his fourth hit of the game.

"He's just continuing to do what he did in the second half of the season for us," said Mesa manager Ryan Christenson, who also managed Barreto with Double-A Midland during the regular season. "Once he tightened up his strike zone discipline, he really took off. He's laying off that borderline strike, he's doing a better job of recognizing the slider that's going to be out of the zone.

"He has that ability to back the ball up and really be strong to the opposite field. That's a great combination, being able to see the ball long and being able to drive the ball like he did over the right fielder's head. Line drive to right field is what he does."

In the first half of the Texas League season, Barreto struggled, hitting .236/.296/.350. After making those adjustments, he returned to looking like one of the more exciting infield prospects in baseball, posting a .337/.393/.490 line in the second half. He got bumped up to Triple-A at the conclusion of the year, went 6-for-17 in four regular season games and went 8-for-19 with six extra-base hits in five Pacific Coast League playoff contests. Considering he was more than three and a half years younger than the average position player in the Texas League, his developmental progress in 2016 was quite impressive.

"Just to see them clean up their games, especially at such a young age," Christenson said. "Not just plate discipline, but he had a little rough start as far as throwing. He makes the adjustment real quick, he's a hard worker and will do anything you ask him to do on a day-to-day basis. That's all you can really ask as a player development person."

It's carried over to the Fall League. Barreto is now hitting .333 (6-for-18) with four RBIs in his four games thus far. He's made a few errors at short as he's gotten himself back into the groove with his throwing mechanics. It's up in the air whether he sticks at short long term, but Christenson thinks he could be an excellent defender at second, where he played a good amount with Midland this year.

"He did a lot of really good things at second," Christenson said. "He's so electric going side to side and made a couple of sliding plays in the outfield that kind of reminded me of how Roberto Alomar used to play.

"I think the verdict is still out. You keep him at short at this point because of his age to see if it pans out. I think he's going to be a force at either. "

The same could be said for Torres, who is just 19. Considered a better defender than Barreto, the key part of the return the Yankees got from the Cubs in the Aroldis Chapman deal had played just one game at second base in his career before the Fall League started. But he's made two starts on the right side of the infield in his four games, including on Tuesday. He's hit .357/.471/.929 with two homers and three RBIs in 14 total at-bats.

"Just to see them out there, to see the versatility, that's where the game is going," Christenson said. "You see what the Cubs are doing, with guys moving around. Not only does it showcase their ability to play multiple positions, it seems to keep them engaged. They're kind of excited to get to try something else."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.