What's old is new again for former A's top prospect Franklin Barreto.
Barreto has played four games in the outfield this spring -- two in center field and two in left -- and as many in the infield. The 23-year-old grew up playing in center, according to MLB.com's Jane Lee, but has spent the entirety of his four years in the A's organization playing shortstop and second base.
The Venezuelan played outfield in winter ball this year, too, and for good reason. The A's are preparing him for a utility role, and they are happy so far with Barreto's performance in the outfield.
“You watch the drills and watch him do his work in the outfield, he’s a natural at it,” A's manager Bob Melvin said (via MLB.com). “When you’re that athletic, it gives you some options.”
Barreto's newfound positional versatility will help the A's, a team that craves it in their players. It could help him, too.
He faces a crowded depth chart in the infield and the outfield. Jurickson Profar and Marcus Semien are ahead of him at second base and shortstop, respectively, while the A's glut of outfielders wouldn't seem to leave much room for him on the 25-man roster.
In the meantime, Barreto is trying to stand out. So far, he has, according to Melvin.
“It’s impressive,” he said. “I think, to an extent, you would expect there to be some trepidation playing the outfield, but there’s absolutely none. As a matter of fact, I think he’s having a really good time with it."
That might not lead to an immediate call-up to the big leagues, but it could lead to one sooner rather than later.