Generally signed based on pure tools and projection, and at an age – 16 – when most of their American peers are be sophomores in high school, international prospects are an inherent gamble. But Vancouver Canadians shortstop Franklin Barreto, 18, is already starting to show the Blue Jays that they made the right gamble.
Barreto has been one of the best shortstops in the Northwwest League this year, hitting .313/.401/.464 with 12 stolen bases and four triples. Superficially, he hasn’t looked at strong over the past week, going just three for 18 with a double in his last six games, but even those contests testify to his advanced approach at the plate. He has collected five walks over that time and posted a .375 on base percentage despite his .167 average. The Venezuela native now ranks 8th in the league with his .401 OBP, tops of any shortstop and any player under the age of 20.
The 11 for 21, one home run, fourteen RBI performance he put up over a five game stretch from July 17th to July 21st may have been flashier. But when it comes to prospects, plate discipline is at least almost as important as being able to consistently hit for average, and is certainly a greater indicator of future success than any of the other major tools – athleticism, power, speed (all of which Barreto possesses at least small pockets of). MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo has taken notice of Baretto’s performance, ranking him as Toronto’s 8th best prospect, as has the rest of the baseball; the teenager’s name has swirled in multiple rumors as the trade deadline looms.
>Seth Spivey went 3 for 4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored to lead Spokane to a 6-2 victory over Vancouver. He now owns a .314/.429/.486 slash line over his past ten games, which, as strong as it is, actually detracts from his league leading .368 average and .448 on base percentage. The 22 year old second baseman has been one of the strongest performers in the Rangers’ system since they took him in the tenth round of last month’s draft.
Spivey was a catcher in college at ACU, but the Rangers moved him to the infield right after signing. Fielding percentage is a rather crude barometer of defensive performance but thus far he owns .962 mark at his new position, a respectable number for a a player in transition.
>Spivey has paced the Northwest League at the plate; his teammate, Derek Thompson, has done the same at the plate. The righthander, 21, took home a victory Saturday after holding Salem-Keizer to one run and over six innings, walking none. He was even better in the start before that, fanning ten Everett batters over seven shutout innings as Spokane took home a 3-0 victory.
The Rangers took Thompson in the twelfth round of June’s draft and while he had a rough start to his season, he’s been in complete control of late. The Illinois native is 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 24 innings over his last four starts.
>There was a slugfest in Eugene on Friday as Tri-City Dust Devils scored nine runs in the 3rd and ultimately edged out the Emeralds 14-7. Amazingly enough, in a game that featured 21 runs, neither team homered and there were only three extra base hits (all doubles) in the game – two of which were by the losing club. What there was, as is often in the case in short-season leagues populated by baseball’s most inexperienced players, was a lot of walks and errors, as each team committed coughed up or errantly threw the ball three times, and Eugene pitchers issued six free passes.
Center-fielder Samuel Bumpers paced Tri-City’s offense, going 3 for 5 with a pair of RBIs and runs scored. Third baseman Josh Fuentes also had a big night, collecting a single and a double, scoring thrice and driving in three. Although, he has not played since, Friday’s game capped off a hot streak for the 21 year old as he hit .421/.478/.579 with three doubles and seven RBIs over five games.
The odds are stacked against Fuentes, who was passed over fifty times by all thirty club as he went undrafted out of Missouri Baptist University. If he were to make it to the majors, He wouldn’t be the first undrafted free agent to do so, but he would join a very exclusive club.