Shortstop Franklin Barreto and reliever Sam Bragg will represent the A’s in Saturday’s “Fall Stars” game.
The annual game is the marquee event of the five-week Arizona Fall League, which showcases many of the majors’ top prospects. The 20-year-old Barreto, Oakland’s top-rated prospect, is one of four players in the Fall Stars game who are ranked among the top 50 prospects on MLB.com’s latest list. Barreto comes in at No. 42.
He hit .284 with 11 home runs and 53 RBI in a 2016 season spent mostly with Double-A Midland before a late call-up to Triple-A Nashville. Barreto, who gave a strong showing in major league spring camp before the season, is considered a likely candidate for his first major league call-up sometime in 2017.
His manager at Midland, Ryan Christenson — who happens to be the skipper for the East squad in the Fall Stars game — was impressed with the adjustments Barreto made at the plate throughout the regular season. After hitting .236 in the first half, the Venezuela native improved to .337 during the second half. His OPS jumped from .646 to .883.
“I think the thing that was most impressive, he’s been able to (make adjustments) at such a young age,” Christenson said. “You see how his at-bats change the more disciplined he is in the zone. … He tightened up on his discipline and went berserk in the second half. That was the only difference right there.”
Barreto has been a shortstop throughout his professional career, though at Midland he alternated much of the season with Yairo Munoz, another A’s prospect taking part in the AFL. One would play short, the other second base. Barreto played some center field in winter ball last year but the A’s plan for him to stay in the infield.
Christenson likes Barreto’s development at shortstop but sees him having the ability to play on the right side too.
“He gets a little sloppy with his throwing sometimes. That will get cleaned up,” Christenson said. “It seems he’s going to be a sure-handed player. I think you leave him at shortstop because he’s so young, but if you consider bringing him up to the big leagues and (Marcus) Semien’s there, he looks good at second base too.”
The 23-year-old Bragg, an 18th round draft pick in 2013, has allowed just one earned run and six hits in five AFL appearances. He’s struck out eight and has yet to allow a walk through 9 1/3 innings. The right-hander posted a 4.29 ERA in 36 appearances with Midland in 2016.
The Fall Stars game begins at 5 p.m. Saturday and will air on the MLB Network.