With a power-packed offense, it seems Triple-A Nashville can have a different player step into the spotlight any night. On Thursday, it was the Sounds' top-rated talent.
Oakland's No. 1 prospect Franklin Barreto finished a triple short of the cycle and matched a career high with five RBIs and fourth-ranked Matt Chapman went yard in his third straight game as Nashville drubbed Fresno, 13-3.
"The secret to his success is just controlling the strike zone really," Sounds manager Ryan Christenson said of Barreto. "It's that simple for him. When he's dialed in and not chasing balls out of the zone, he's good. He's a guy that can flat-out hit. When he's getting pitches in the zone that he can do something with, he always hits them hard."
Video: Nashville's Barreto hammers three-run shot
While Barreto's start to the year has been impressive in a host of measures -- his slash line bumped to .320/.369/.510 after Thursday -- his strikeouts also have been abundant. The shortstop fanned 44 times in the season's first 36 games entering the night, but Barreto handled the zone to break out his first multi-hit game since May 6.
Gameday box score
The 21-year-old dealt the big blow of a four-run third inning that sparked the Sounds. Chapman got his team started by smashing a leadoff homer to left-center field.
"[Fresno starter Trent Thornton] made a mistake and he just absolutely hammered it just to the right of the batter's eye," Christenson said. "It shows me that he was still staying to the middle of the field. He wasn't trying to go deep, but he's so damn strong that he touched it and it went."
Video: Nashville's Chapman homers on third straight day
Four batters later, Barreto smoked a liner over the left-field wall with a pair aboard.
"Barreto got a hanging breaking ball later in the at-bat for a three-run homer, and actually [No. 15 A's prospect Matt Olson] just about followed him the next at-bat, hooked one just foul down the right-field line," Christenson said. "It was a lot of loud contact during that inning."
MLB.com's No. 45 overall prospect combined with Nashville leadoff man Jaycob Brugman to go 5-for-12. Since starting his season late due to a left calf injury, Brugman has batted .377/.441/.472 in 13 games.
"When Barreto's controlling the zone and giving us good at-bats, that's usually two guys right in a row at the top of the order that are getting good at-bats," Christenson said. "That's what we like about Brugman up at the top of the order. He's getting on via a walk or a hit. They both have the opportunity or the ability to drive the ball for damage, so you have that working for you at the top of the lineup."
Each member of Nashville's starting nine had at least one hit in the rout, and eight players turned in multi-hit games. Barreto capped his performance with a single to left in the seventh. His five RBIs matched a personal best set exactly two years ago on May 18, 2015 with Class A Advanced Stockton against Modesto.
Oakland's No. 17 prospect Renato Nunez joined the homer contingent with a leadoff shot to left in the eighth. The Sounds have won five of their last seven, scoring 29 runs over their last three games.
"I've been doing it now for five years, watching this group," Christenson said. "They've notoriously been slow starters. I know talking with Eric (Martins, Nashville hitting coach), he had this group last year and they got off to a slow April and turned it around in May. It's very similar to what they did last year this year, but they do feed off each other, and they're starting to click right now."MiLB include
Nashville got quality work on the mound in the victory as well. Right-hander Daniel Mengden allowed a run on four hits without issuing a walk and seven strikeouts over six innings.
"Daniel looked really good," Christenson said. "He had a nice down angle working with his fastball. When he has that, he's going to be tough with the changeup and the cutter that he throws off of that same pitch. He actually had a nice little slow breaking ball working. It was a tough mix because he was in the zone with all four."
Houston's No. 4 prospect Derek Fisher clubbed a two-run homer in the eighth for Fresno.