Melvin praises A's top prospect Barreto: 'Not much this guy can't do'

Melvin praises A's top prospect Barreto: 'Not much this guy can't do'

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — If this is audition time for Franklin Barreto, the A’s top prospect is making the most of it.

Barreto connected for his first spring homer Thursday against Cleveland, an opposite-field blast to right-center that showed his deceiving power for a player who measures a compact 5-foot-10. The middle infielder is now hitting .480 (12-for-25) in 15 games, doing nothing to dispel the speculation of when he might get his first major league call-up.

“He’s just a baseball player — defensively, offensively. He runs the bases,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “There’s not much this guy can’t do. Really, the only question is when, not if.”

Though A’s general manager David Forst is preaching patience with Barreto, who just turned 21 last month, there’s a good chance he reaches the bigs sometime this season. He’ll begin with Triple-A Nashville, where he’s likely to get time at both shortstop and second base.

Shortstop has been his primary position since the A’s acquired him from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson trade of November 2014. But they gave him plenty of time at second last season at Double-A, and he also got innings there during the Arizona Fall League.

The A’s aren’t inclined to move Marcus Semien off shortstop at this point, so second base appears the quickest route to Oakland for Barreto, a native of Caracas, Venezuela. But while he remains in the minors, the A’s want him to keep playing on the left side of the infield too.

“I think the determining factor overall is the efficiency and accuracy of him throwing,” said Grady Fuson, an A’s special assistant who scouts the farm system extensively. “He’s got a strong enough arm. The footwork continues to get cleaned up. There’s no panic in this (decision of) where he’s gonna play. He’s getting very good at both, so time will tell.”

Jed Lowrie is the A’s incumbent starter at second base, but he’ll turn 33 next month and he’s in the final year of his contract, so he’s not the future at the position. If Lowrie is playing well as summer rolls around, it’s easy to envision him being dangled in a trade if the A’s aren’t contending.

“I feel really comfortable at second. I also feel comfortable at short,” Barreto said through interpreter Juan Dorado. “I’m just kind of learning and doing my job wherever they have me.”

The A’s also have Adam Rosales, and, as far as younger players, Joey Wendle, Chad Pinder and Max Schrock as part of their second base depth. But it’s Barreto who projects as a top-of-the-order talent with speed, a player who could be a cornerstone piece by the time the A’s hope to be moving into a new Oakland ballpark.

“I just feel bad for him, only 21 years old and hitting ‘oppo' homers in spring training,” catcher Stephen Vogt joked. “No, he’s some kind of special talent. He’s obviously shown what he’s capable of and is going to be a very, very good player for a long time. He’s just a confident, quiet, really nice kid. It’s fun to watch him play.”

Report: A's bringing back former slugger first baseman

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Report: A's bringing back former slugger first baseman

The A's hit a lot of home runs and they appear to be bringing back a player that hits a lot of home runs.

Chris Carter, who played for the A's from 2010 through 2012, is reportedly signing a minor league contract to return to the organization.

News of the deal was first reported by FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman.

Carter was released by the Yankees on July 10. In 62 games for New York, Carter hit .201/.284/.370 with five doubles, eight home runs and 26 RBI.

Over the previous four seasons between Houston and Milwaukee, Carter hit 131 home runs and drove in 328 runs.

Carter's high-water mark with the A's came in 2012 when he hit 16 home runs in 67 games.

Sonny Gray keeps dealing, A's avoid sweep with win over Rays

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Sonny Gray keeps dealing, A's avoid sweep with win over Rays

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND — Sonny Gray struck out six pitching into the seventh in what might have been his final home start in Oakland if the club tries to deal him before the trade deadline, and the Athletics rallied in the fifth inning to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-2 on Wednesday.

Matt Joyce hit a towering homer to the right-field seats in the eighth for Oakland.

Rajai Davis doubled home Oakland's first run in the fifth then Joyce followed with a tying sacrifice fly before Davis scurried home with the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.

Gray (6-4) won his third straight start and fourth in five. When speculation arose from the White Sox side before his Friday outing that the right-hander had been scratched because of a possible deal, the A's quickly announced that he was indeed taking the mound for his scheduled outing.

After a pair of one-run defeats to begin this series, the A's avoided being swept by the Rays in Oakland for the first time. This already marked just their third lost series at home to Tampa Bay.

Gray allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings with two walks.

The Rays got three straight singles off Gray to start the fourth inning, including an RBI single by Wilson Ramos. Brad Miller also drove in a run on a groundout.

But Oakland finally got to Tampa Bay right-hander Jake Faria (4-1) in the fifth. With seven straight quality starts to begin his career, Faria took his first big league loss.

A's All-Star Yonder Alonso hit an RBI single in the inning, when Faria had two of his four walks. He allowed six hits and four runs in five innings, striking out four.

Alonso was thrown out at home in the first when he tried to go from first on Khris Davis' double to right. The throw beat him so handily Alonso didn't even try to slide and instead ran behind the plate before turning for the dugout.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rays: RF Steven Souza Jr. exited the game in the first after straining his left hip trying to steal second after drawing a leadoff walk to start the game. Shane Peterson replaced him. X-rays were negative and he will be re-evaluated once the team arrives home. ... Manager Kevin Cash said LHP Blake Snell would make his next turn in the rotation despite still being winless at 0-5 with a 4.98 ERA in 11 starts. "He's going to pitch well," Cash said.

Athletics: The A's hope to have Chad Pinder back from the DL and a strained left hamstring when they return home from an upcoming seven-game trip to the New York Mets and Toronto. Manager Bob Melvin plans to use him as a utilityman. ... RHP Kendall Graveman allowed five hits and four runs with one strikeout and a walk on 46 pitches in 2 1/3 innings with Triple-A Nashville rehabbing his strained pitching shoulder. RHP Jharel Cotton (blister on his right thumb) also pitched in the game, striking out six in 3 1/3 innings, while Pinder was 0 for 2 with a walk and strikeout for the Sounds.

UP NEXT

Rays: With the Rays back home, RHP Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.59 ERA) takes the ball in Friday's series opener against Yu Darvish and Texas having not faced the Rangers since April 6, 2014.

Athletics: After Thursday's day off following a cross-country flight, RHP Paul Blackburn (1-0, 1.83 ERA) pitches the series opener at the Mets in his fourth career start.