Franklin Barreto: Is he the Blue Jays’ answer for life after Jose Reyes?
Heaping expectations on an 18-year old infielder at a short season affiliate is a fool’s errand. After seeing the Blue Jays’ Franklin Barreto though, it’s easy to be carried away. With an impressive array of tools and plenty of athleticism, Barreto was a gem of the 2012 international class. Signed for $1.45 million, Toronto can afford to let the Venezuelan determine his own pace. For now, he’ll play shortstop, but what do the Blue Jays have in Franklin Barreto?
Toronto’s Northwest League affiliate, the Vancouver Canadians, is a must-see on the circuit. Along with Barreto and recently added 2014 first rounder, Max Pentecost, the Blue Jays have a number of high impact arms in Vancouver. A two-game look saw starts from top prospects Alberto Tirado and Jairo Labourt, with Miguel Castro helping to round out the rotation. On a prospect-studded roster, Barreto stood out.
Listed at 5-foot-9, 174 pounds, Franklin Barreto bears physical resemblance to many of his college-aged teammates. He’s strong, especially his wrists and forearms, and is close to physical maturity. Already stocky, increased muscle would come at the expense of speed. Still, with thick legs, quick hands, and natural loft to his swing, Barreto will have no problems driving the ball out of the park.
At the plate, Barreto starts quietly. His feet are slightly open and pigeon-toed, and the right-handed hitter begins with the bat resting on his shoulder. Only a small body wiggle exists before everything springs to life. The bat head rises quickly and a neutral stance disappears as Barreto’s front foot kicks high off the ground, shifting his weight entirely to the back foot. With a coiled load, Barreto makes good use of his body’s momentum, driving hard onto the front foot at contact.
Franklin Barreto has an outstanding hit tool. He makes hard contact at will and uses arm extension to maximize a short, powerful stroke. Barreto uses the whole field and showed considerable backspin on opposite field shots in a batting practice round (and multiple doubles over the Everett AquaSox right fielder’s head). Barreto’s hit tool is advanced for his age, and the future top-100 prospect’s power should develop to the tune of 12-15 home runs.
Since his load and stride require precise timing, Barreto will have to adapt to better off-speed pitches as he advances. At present, few pitchers in short season possess a pitch with which the 18-year old struggles (leaving the impression he would benefit from a shot at Single-A Lansing before the end of the 2014 campaign). As such, Barreto swung at the first pitch on numerous occasions. In upper levels, pitchers can use this approach to expand the zone. He demonstrates every action at the plate to adapt quickly though, and as such his plate discipline should not be a concern.
Possessing above-average speed, Barreto wreaked havoc on the base paths. Doubles will come in bunches and the speedster will turn many into triples. Barreto’s a stolen base threat and could easily steal 20+ bags per season. He’s aggressive without being reckless and seems to know his limits, which will only speed up the Venezuelan’s timetable.
Defensively, Franklin Barreto shows the area of his game requiring the most work. His actions for shortstop are below average, making it highly doubtful he makes the bigs at the 6-spot. Twice, his footwork left him in poor position to field ground balls cleanly, one leaving him on his heels and throwing while drifting backwards. Gauging hitting with a small sample can be dangerous, but often defensive instincts reveal themselves immediately.
Barreto has an above average arm and could shift over to third base. However, second is a far more likely destination. An intriguing idea is to move him to center field, which would allow his speed to become more of an asset on defense even if learning to be an outfielder added development time.
Tool Present Future Projected Role First division starting second baseman Hitting Ability 35 65 Power 25 45 Speed 60 60 Fielding Ability 35 45 Arm 45 55
Owning Franklin Barreto
Toronto has plenty of young talent to be excited about. On the mound, the promotions of Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez [Scouting Report] are countered by Daniel Norris, a recovering Roberto Osuna, and 2014 draft pick Jeff Hoffman in addition to Tirado and Labourt. At the plate, Barreto joins Dalton Pompey, D.J. Davis and Pentecost in the discussion for the Blue Jays’ top hitting prospect. Regardless of future position, players like Barreto are key investments for dynasty baseball teams. Don’t wait for the masses (and prospect lists) to catch up to a middle infielder with potential for a .300 batting average with 12 HRs and 20 SBs. Adding Franklin Barreto now is precisely the flyer to take in dynasty leagues with deep minor league rosters.
23 Jul 2014 / Ben Flajole /
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