No Oakland A's player has had a better spring than Franklin Barreto.
The 23-year-old is hitting .387/.457/.613 with a home run and four doubles in 31 at-bats. For his efforts, Barreto has been rewarded with a trip to Japan for the A's season-opening series against the Mariners.
Franklin Barreto has been told he’s going to Japan with A’s— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 10, 2019
That doesn't necessarily mean Barreto will make the A's 25-man roster, but it's a major step in the right direction. Oakland is allowed to take 30 players on the trip to Tokyo and keep 28 players on the roster through the first two games against the Mariners. They must then cut the roster to 25 before their March 28 home opener against the Angels.
A's manager Bob Melvin says he is not the least bit surprised by Barreto's success.
"He's just an opportunity away from doing that all the time," Melvin told reporters. "I remember a couple of years ago, he started out in Triple-A and some of the reports I was getting were: 'There's Triple-A and then there's Franklin Barreto.'
"It's just unfortunate he's in a spot where he's blocked right now. But once he gets an opportunity, it's not going to surprise me if he starts swinging the bat like he is right now."
Barreto's versatility should work in his favor -- he can play second base, shortstop, and the outfield. Left field figures to be his best opportunity, with Jurickson Profar and Marcus Semien locked into the middle infield positions and Ramón Laureano in center field.
Last season, Barreto struggled at the major league level, posting a .233/.253/.493 slash line in 73 at-bats. His biggest issue was the strikeout, a fate he met 29 times, compared to just one walk. But Barreto spent the offseason working on his plate discipline and has made tremendous strides in that area.
Whether he ends up on the Opening Day roster or not, Barreto is starting to live up to the hype that surrounded him the past few years. As Melvin noted, he's just one opportunity away.