The A's promoted No. 1 prospect Frankin Barreto to Triple-A Nashville on Wednesday, bringing one of baseball's top infield prospects a step away from the Majors.
Barreto, 20, is expected to join the Nashville Sounds today and bat second in his Pacific Coast League debut after hitting .281 with 10 homers, 50 RBIs and 30 stolen bases in 119 games at Double-A Midland. The Triple-A affiliate confirmed the move in a tweet on Wednesday morning.
The Midland Reporter-Telegram first reported the move on Tuesday night, saying RockHounds manager Ryan Christenson indicated the shortstop would be promoted. Barreto went 2-for-5 on Tuesday night in helping Midland clinch the Texas League's South Division.
The move comes in the wake of Oakland reportedly trading outfielder Coco Crisp to Cleveland, prompting the A's to bring up Joey Wendle from Nashville.
Barreto, a 2016 Texas League All-Star, has enjoyed a strong second half, hitting .337/.393/.490 with four homers and 26 RBIs in 51 games. He began the year hitting .236 with six home runs and 24 RBIs in his first 68 contests. He hit .276 in April and slumped through May with a .189 average but caught fire in July, hitting .423 in 19 games that month. He's an even .300 in August.
"He's just been swinging a really good bat here as of late and got off to a great start in the second half," Christenson told MiLB.com last month. "He's a line drive hitter that has pop in the bat. As long as he gets enough trajectory on it, he's going to pop one out of the yard. He's been a line drive machine and just hitting lasers all over the yard."
The Venezuela native signed with Toronto in 2012 before the Blue Jays packaged him with Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin in a trade for 2015 American League MVP Josh Donaldson in November 2014. He entered this year as MLB.com's No. 23-ranked overall prospect but is currently at No. 47 following the Draft.
"He is starting to look very confident, without a doubt," Christenson said. "He's got a little swag once he does reach base and when he's taking his lead. He's also playing a good second base and shortstop for us, so there's definitely some confidence coming along with this hot hitting he's going through."
Barreto himself spoke about that confidence, saying he wasn't worried about the A's timetable.
"I don't go for the numbers," Barreto told MiLB.com through an interpreter. "It's how I feel at the plate, and how I feel on the field and things will take care of themselves."
Barreto hit .302 with 13 homers, 47 RBIs and eight steals last year at Class A Advanced Stockton after batting .311 with six homers and 61 RBIs in 73 contests for Class A Short Season Vancouver a year earlier. He was voted the Northwest League MVP in 2014 and was a two-time MiLB.com Blue Jays Organizational All-Star in 2013-14.
"By no means do I think he's over-matched, because we've seen he can compete and be a dominate player," Christenson said. "He is mature for his age by watching him go about his work day."