Barreto Puts Alonso's Advice to Good Use on Walk-off Homer Vs White Sox

OAKLAND - By the time Franklin Barreto returned to the dugout after his third-inning strikeout Tuesday, teammate Yonder Alonso was waiting there for him.

"Just had a little talk with him," Alonso said, his smile suggesting the talk was a bit stern in nature.

The message: Get his bat around quicker on the fastball.

Apparently it sank in. In the bottom of the ninth, with the A's having blown a lead in the top half, Barreto turned around a 97 mile-per-hour fastball from the White Sox's Tommy Kahnle and watched his first career walk-off homer sail over the left field fence.

That gave the A's a 7-6 victory, an end to their season-high six-game losing streak and the latest sign that their No. 1 prospect will be a player with a knack for such big moments.

Barreto, just 21, homered in his big league debut June 24 against the Sox in Chicago. Go back to spring 2016, and Barreto went deep in the first Cactus League at-bat of his first big league spring camp.

The rookie shortstop worked the count to full in the ninth Tuesday, then lofted a towering fly ball that kept carrying in left. It barely cleared the wall, but Barreto admired his blast for his first few steps out of the batter's box, saying later he was confident the ball would carry out based on the contact he made.

His teammates mobbed him, then Barreto experienced his first pie to the face. Team interpreter Juan Dorado, who was standing next to him translating a TV interview, got smacked too. Adam Rosales had two pies ready for the occasion.

"It's always been a dream of mine to help the team win, and I finally got to realize that today," Barreto said.

It's been a bumpy 10-game introduction to the majors. Barreto entered Tuesday hitting .176, with just two hits and 13 strikeouts in his previous 24 at-bats. But Tuesday showed that a dose of adversity doesn't sap his confidence.

"He's just a special kid," said Alonso, who enjoyed quite a day himself with two homers. "There's a reason he's the No. 1 prospect. He's just a very talented guy."

Barreto knows how to process advice too, which will be important in the infant stages of his career. There's no denying his offensive potential, but at the time of his call-up, he had racked up the most strikeouts (92) of any hitter in the Pacific Coast League.

A steep learning curve should be expected against major league pitching. That's where veterans such as Alonso come in. Even before Barreto arrived from Triple-A Nashville, he'd been getting occasional text messages from Alonso, who had gotten to know the young infielder over the past two spring trainings.

"I've seen him for two years now," Alonso said. "I've seen what he's good at, what he's bad at. It's fun to see something that I can help him out with."

After Barreto whiffed against James Shields in his first at-bat, it was a great sign when he banged an RBI triple off the right field wall his next time up. A's officials say he's at his best when using the whole field.

And rest assured Alonso isn't the only one dishing him advice. Barreto's father, Jose, who lives in Venezuela, has been in attendance for every one of his big league games so far.

"He's been keeping me positive," Barreto said. "Like any father would do, he's been giving me advice, giving me things to work on, helping me out along the way."

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