Down on the Farm: Barreto breaks slump with first four-hit Triple-A night

Down on the Farm: Barreto breaks slump with first four-hit Triple-A night

Franklin Barreto, the A's top hitting prospect, came out of the gates on fire this season. The 21-year-old shortstop hit .440 with two home runs in the first week of games this season for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. 

And then, the young middle infielder hit a wall. Barreto dropped down to a .286 batting average as recently as Wednesday after striking out 11 times in six games. But, on Thursday, Barreto put all his tools together for his biggest Triple-A game in his second stint with the Sounds. 

Barreto went 4-for-4 with a RBI triple in the Sounds' 4-3 loss to the Oklahoma City Dodgers. He started off with singles to left field in his first two at-bats before smacking an opposite-field triple, his second of the season, and finished with a single through the left side of the infield. 

For Barreto's hitting coach, to get him out of his hitting slump it was all about improving his two-strike approach. Barreto took the advice in stride, collecting his first two hits of the night with two strikes. 

"A couple of the two-strike hits were balls that were in that he was able to get a barrel to and get some base hits, Sounds hitting coach Eric Martins told MiLB.com. "He took some pitches that were in the dirt and some pitches that were down that he was chasing before." 

As Barreto keeps improving, Martins wants him to continue his aggresiveness at the plate while also being a smarter two-strike hitter. 

"Barreto's aggressive, but he also has pretty good plate discipline on top of that," Martins said. "He may swing and miss a little bit, but it's something that, with two strikes, it shouldn't bother him too much because of how quick his hands are and how good of a path that he has." 

After his big four-hit night, Barreto raised his batting average 54 points from .286 to .340.

When it was announced A's shortstop Marcus Semien would miss the next two months with a right wrist fracture, many believed Oakland would turn to their biggest piece from their Josh Donaldson trade. Instead, GM David Forst wants more time in Triple-A for Barreto's development. 

“It’s hard to say,” Forst responded when asked for a timetable of Barreto's arrival. “It’s not science, it’s an art, knowing when a player is ready. We’ve had enough guys come through that they’ll tell you when they’re ready. You look at what Healy did last year, his performance told us when he’s ready. You hope that the player forces your hand and says it’s time.”

For the time being, the A's are going with a mix of veteran Adam Rosales and prospect Chad Pinder at shortstop. 

Around The Horn

—Former Cal star Daulton Jefferies is set for Tommy John surgery. Jefferies pitched in two games for the Stockton Ports in Advanced Single-A this season going 0-0 with a 2.57 ERA. The A's drafted Jefferies No. 37 overall in 2016. 

—The A's first-round pick from 2016 in dominating in three appearances for the Ports. A.J. Puk has thrown 12 innings this season and has only allowed one earned run while striking out 20 batters. 

—Matt Chapman, the A's top power-hitting prospect, is still out after suffering a wrist injury on a check swing in the second game of the season. He struck out six times in those two games.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

BOX SCORE

The A’s sprung to life offensively in the late innings Sunday and polished off their first road sweep of 2017.

They scored all five of their runs over the final three innings to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3, continuing an odd stretch of streakiness. The A’s swept the New York Yankees in four at the Coliseum, then turned around and dropped four in a row to the Houston Astros before arriving in Chicago and taking all three from the Sox. It’s their first sweep on the road since they won four in Kansas City from Sept. 12-15 of last season.

The weekend’s events provided a morale boost for a team that began the series an American League-worst 9-25 away from home. The sweep also featured numerous contributions from a pack of recently promoted young players fresh from the minors.

The A’s had no answer for left-hander Derek Holland through six-plus innings, mustering just four hits off the veteran. But trailing 2-0, they got on the board with Jed Lowrie’s pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh. The next inning, Khris Davis singled home the tying run and Yonder Alonso followed with a go-ahead single down the left-field line to put the A’s up 3-2.

They tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth on back-to-back homers from Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce.

Sonny rebounds: Sonny Gray (3-3) avoided the early trouble that plagued his last start, working seven innings and being rewarded with a victory thanks to the A’s eighth-inning rally. He struck out seven and walked just one. That was a key as Gray had issued seven free passes combined in his previous two starts. Adam Engel hit a 2-1 fastball for a homer in the third, then Jose Abreu scored on a passed ball in the fourth to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. But Gray held the Sox to just four hits over his seven innings.

Sign of things to come? Franklin Barreto got a look as the No. 2 hitter in the order Sunday, a spot that some scouts feel he’ll be well suited for as his career unfolds. He singled to the opposite field in his first at-bat, then struck out looking in his next two trips to the plate. In the eighth, his broken-bat single to left jumpstarted Oakland’s two-run go-ahead rally. Barreto is 4-for-10 in his first two games with the big club.

Joyce provides a lift off the bench: Joyce entered as a pinch runner in the seventh and connected for his 10th homer, right after Rosales had gone deep himself. Joyce became the fourth Athletic to crack double figures in homers, and the A’s improved to 31-26 when they hit at least one home run (they’re 3-16 when they don’t).

Doo does it again: Lefty reliever Sean Doolittle continued to deal since coming off the disabled list. He threw a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts and has allowed just one hit over five innings in six appearances since his return.

An unwanted milestone: The Sox scored their second run on a passed ball by Josh Phegley, which accounted for Oakland’s 50th unearned run, most in the majors. They had just 43 unearned runs all of last season.

Former A's catcher Stephen Vogt claimed by NL Central team

Former A's catcher Stephen Vogt claimed by NL Central team

A new team believes in Stephen Vogt.

The former A's catcher, who was designated for assignment on Thursday, was claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.

The A's announced the transaction shortly before their game against the White Sox.

News of the Brewers making the waiver claim was first reported by ESPN.

The Brewers were the only team to place a waiver claim on Vogt, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Vogt, a clubhouse leader and one of the longest tenured A's, hit just .217 with four home runs and 20 RBI in 54 games this season.