Barreto caps torrid July with three hits
Franklin Barreto is getting picky ... the good kind of picky.
"He's really understanding what allows him to have success here at this level, which is controlling the strike zone," Double-A Midland manager Ryan Christenson said of the top-ranked A's prospect. "He's done a much better job of not chasing out of the strike zone and just sticking to what he's looking to get."
Barreto went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer and a double on Sunday night, helping Double-A Midland defeat Corpus Christi, 4-2, at Whataburger Field. It was his fourth three-hit game in July, a month during which he batted .423.
"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 said.
The 20-year-old infielder notched his first knock in the fifth inning when he connected on a 0-1 offering from Hooks starter Cy Sneed and sent it over the left-field wall for a two-run blast.
"He's a line drive hitter that has pop in the bat," Christenson said. "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."
MLB.com's No. 55 overall prospect doubled in the seventh before tacking on a single in the ninth for his 10th multi-hit game of the month.
"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."
The key to Barreto's recent surge, according to his manager, is improved pitch selection. The Venezuela native batted .238 with 63 strikeouts over the first three months of the season. In July, Barreto upped his average to .276 while fanning eight times in 71 at-bats.
"I think with him, the conversation that myself and Brian McArn, the hitting coach, have with him is just gearing your swing to a certain zone that you're looking for the pitch," Christenson said. "It doesn't matter what the speed of the pitch is, if it's in your zone, you're ready to put your 'A' swing on it and you let it rip.
"Sometimes they just look for a fastball or breaking ball and if they see it, no matter where it is at, they swing at it. So I think that's been the biggest thing with him, is that he's looking to pull the trigger in his zone. And if a breaking ball starts to go away from that zone, it gets laid off now."
Beau Taylor cracked a go-ahead solo homer in the eighth for the RockHounds, who got two hits apiece from Brett Vertigan and Danny Oh.
Andres Avila (5-2) tossed 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief after A's No. 16 prospect Heath Fillmyer gave up two runs on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts over five frames. Bobby Wahl struck out three over the final 1 1/3 innings for his 10th save.
Michael Peng is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelXPeng