Growing up in Venezuela, A’s prospect Franklin Barreto said he aspired to be like countryman Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers’ two-time MVP and four-time batting champion.
“That’s the guy I always kept an eye on – the way he is, the type of player he is,” Barreto, 20, said Tuesday with pitcher Francisco Rodriguez interpreting. “His hitting was the main focus. I always wanted to be at his level – or better. In my head, I’m always trying to be better than he is.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin chuckled when told of Barreto’s comments.
“I’ll take Cabrera right now,” Melvin said.
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Three weeks into his first major-league camp, it’s clear Barreto isn’t intimidated. Acquired by Oakland in the Josh Donaldson deal with Toronto in 2014, the young shortstop last season hit .302 with a .333 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage for High-A Stockton, with 13 homers in 90 games. Through his first seven at-bats this spring, Barreto has homered twice.
“I watched some video of him (before this spring) and you look at the numbers and you’d say, yeah, he’s got some power,” Melvin said of Barreto, who’s listed at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds. “Then you see him, watch him take (batting practice), and it’s kind of surprising power for his stature. It’s mostly pull power right now, but we’ll see. It’s not like he’s done growing and filling out, either.”
More impressive to Melvin has been Barreto’s ability to adapt to being in a big-league camp for the first time. The language barrier can make it difficult for Barreto to communicate with some of his teammates, but Melvin said that “doesn’t affect him at all, or the way he goes about his business.”
“I love to see confidence,” Melvin said, “and he definitely has that.”
Barreto said he grew up playing center field and moved to shortstop in his first season in the Blue Jays’ organization, but he’s comfortable playing either position. Melvin said the A’s see Barreto as a shortstop long term.
“I like doing both,” Barreto said. “Whatever they want me to play, I’m going to do my best.”
A’s notes – Left fielder-first baseman Mark Canha resumed full activities Tuesday after missing more than a week with back stiffness. Starter Sonny Gray is expected to go about three innings in his Cactus League debut Wednesday.
Giants notes – The Giants are targeting Friday for right fielder Hunter Pence (Achilles) to make his spring debut, manager Bruce Bochy said.
“He’s telling me he’s ready to go tomorrow, but we’re better off being safe than sorry with that Achilles,” Bochy said. “He’s good to go, which is good news, but we’re still going to wait until Friday.”
▪ Closer Santiago Casilla, who’s recovering from the flu, is scheduled to face hitters in batting practice Wednesday, the final step before he pitches in a game. Sergio Romo will likely throw batting practice two more times before pitching in a game.