MESA, Ariz. – A lot of A’s players did something to stand out Friday, but Franklin Barreto sure made a grand first impression.
The A’s No. 1 prospect homered on the first swing of his first at-bat of spring training, drilling a sixth-inning shot to left-center against the Colorado Rockies. That was part of a highlight-filled day for Oakland in a 9-4 victory over Colorado.
Lefty Sean Manaea, the A’s No. 2 prospect right behind Barreto, looked sharp in two shutout innings. New left fielder Khris Davis hit a bases-clearing double high off the center field wall and Josh Reddick went 2-for-2 and reached base in all three of his plate appearances.
But the power display from Barreto, a shortstop known more for spraying line drives in his minor league career, was an eye-opener. He carries himself with a quiet presence around the clubhouse, but manager Bob Melvin has noticed a confidence about Barreto, who just turned 20 and should begin this season at Double-A Midland.
“If you watch him take batting practice and go about his business here, I think he knows he’s got some ability,” Melvin said. “When you step up like that and hit a home run your first time up, it’s not luck.”
Barreto drove a 1-0 pitch from Ryan Carpenter for his homer. He is one of four players the A’s got from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson trade. Only he and right-hander Kendall Graveman are still with Oakland from that deal, so Barreto’s continued development is something to keep an eye on. He’s drawn comparisons to former big league shortstop Rafael Furcal, and Melvin said Barreto’s swing and actions on the field remind him some of former infielder Ronnie Belliard.
NOTEWORTHY: Melvin talked Friday morning about the potential pieces he’s got for his middle-of-the-lineup hitters. Davis, hitting fifth behind cleanup man Danny Valencia, came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second and drove a three-run double high off the large batter’s eye in dead center. The ball hit 15 to 20 feet above the 410-foot sign, a testament to Davis’ power. Reddick, batting third, doubled, singled and drew a walk.
Closer Sean Doolittle got knocked around a bit, giving up three hits and a run in his inning of work. Both Melvin and catcher Carson Blair shrugged that off, saying Doolittle was experimenting with his breaking stuff as he tries to get a feel for a solid second pitch along with his fastball. A scout in attendance clocked Doolittle’s fastball consistently in the 90-92 mph range, a notch below what he was hitting at the end of last season after his recovery from shoulder issues. The more important thing is how Doolittle’s velocity is clocking toward the end of spring.
In the A’s other split-squad game, Felix Doubront went two innings and gave up two runs on five hits as Oakland fell 6-3 to Arizona at Salt River Fields.
PROSPECT UPDATES: After Barreto’s homer in the sixth, other young hitters also got in on the act that inning. Joey Wendle and outfielder Jaycob Brugman, who came over from minor league minicamp for depth purposes, both delivered triples as the A’s scored twice to extend a 7-1 lead.
Lefty Dillon Overton, ranked the A’s No. 8 prospect by Baseball America, threw two shutout innings. He made 25 starts last year split between Single-A and Double-A, his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. Daniel Mengden, who was acquired from Houston in the Scott Kazmir trade, did well to work out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh.
In the game against Arizona, third baseman Matt Chapman connected for a solo homer, continuing a very impressive early camp for the A’s No. 3 prospect.
FAMILIAR FACES: A’s legends Rollie Fingers and Bert Campaneris each threw out ceremonial first pitches in Mesa. Before taking the field, they held a long chat with Rockies manager – and former A’s shortstop – Walt Weiss.