Franklin Barreto must know the Nashville to Oakland flight better than most pilots.
The 22-year-old middle infielder has been recalled by the A's on six different occasions this season. Of course, that also means he has been sent down to Triple-A Nashville five times.
“It's obviously been tough going up and down,” Barreto said Wednesday through an interpreter. “But it's really exciting to be here (now) and be on a team that's winning the way we are.”
Barreto has been ranked as the A's top prospect since 2015, ahead of players like Matt Chapman and Matt Olson. While still young, Barreto has struggled at times this season, both in Oakland and Nashville.
In 77 games with Nashville this season, Barreto hit .259 with 18 homers and 46 RBI, striking out 106 times in 282 at-bats. In 66 at-bats with the A's, he is batting .242 with four home runs, 14 RBI, and 27 strikeouts.
“It's a little bit difficult sometimes going four or five days without getting a plate appearance or playing in a game,” he admitted. “I've been trying to do a better job of preparing myself for what's coming and the role they have me in, and trying to get my rhythm when I get the opportunity to play.”
The talent is clearly there. A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Barreto was ranked as the top international prospect in 2012 by Baseball America. That year, at the age of 16, he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, earning a $1.45 million signing bonus.
Barreto came to the A's in 2014 as part of the Josh Donaldson trade. He made his MLB debut three years later, homering off White Sox right-hander James Shields in his second career at-bat.
Since then, Barreto has ping-ponged between Oakland and Nashville. While he continues to wait his turn behind veterans Jed Lowrie and Marcus Semien, he is enjoying being a part of the A's clubhouse for the stretch run.
“It's really great,” Barreto said. “I spent a lot of time playing in the minors with guys like Chapman, Pinder, and Olson, and growing up with them. It's nice.”
Barreto might have to wait a little longer for an everyday opportunity, especially if the A's re-sign Lowrie beyond this year. But for now, he is focused on the present, as he works to improve his game and help Oakland make a run in the postseason.
“We have a lot of confidence in ourselves and in each other to do the job that's asked of us,” he said. “I think we've shown it on the field and it's really exciting to be able to do it at this level.”