Barreto's move to OF has been 'impressive'

Brooks works around early trouble in registering impressive start

March 2nd, 2019

MESA, Ariz. -- Acclimating to the outfield is no small project, but is managing just fine. He also keeps hitting.

The 23-year-old is balancing both tasks with ease this spring, and the A’s are taking notice.

“It’s impressive,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “I think, to an extent, you would expect there to be some trepidation playing the outfield, but there’s absolutely none. As a matter of fact, I think he’s having a really good time with it.

“We all know he can hit. Getting an opportunity, he’s going to do what he’s doing.”

Barreto picked up a pair of hits in Friday’s 6-3 win against the Rockies, improving to 8-for-16 (.500) with three doubles in Cactus League play, and he credits the time he clocked playing winter ball in Venezuela for the early success. He hit .358 with five home runs and a .927 OPS in 203 plate appearances for Tigres de Aragua.

The knock on Barreto's offensive game has been spelled out by strikeout numbers, which he’s worked to cut down in recent months. He has two to his name in 16 Cactus League at-bats after striking out more than 30 percent of the time last spring.

“Yeah, there’s a difference,” Barreto said through team translator Fernando Alcalá. “The things I worked on in Venezuela carried over to Spring Training, so that’s obviously helping out right now.”

Barreto started in center field on Friday -- his primary position growing up -- after playing in left on Thursday, and he’ll continue to move around as he transitions from second base into a utility role much in the same way did.

“I actually talked to him today,” Barreto said. “He just said that you gotta focus on improving a little bit at every position and keep going that way.

“They talked to me about getting plenty of action out there, so it’s obviously helpful to get the repetitions and see pitches on a regular basis.”

Barreto, though, remains blocked at the big league level and is expected to begin the season in Triple-A Las Vegas. His versatility will at least give the A’s more reasons to call him up when needed.

“You watch the drills and watch him do his work in the outfield, he’s a natural at it,” Melvin said. “When you’re that athletic, it gives you some options.”

Brooks throws four scoreless
Ominous beginnings didn’t derail A’s rotation candidate , who wiggled his way out of a bases-loaded jam against the Rockies in the first inning on Friday.

Brooks yielded a single to his first batter, then hit another and walked one with one out to load the bases, ultimately buckling down to strike out and .

The right-hander faced just one over the minimum in his final three innings of work.

“All that plays into our decision-making,” Melvin said, “so it was good to see.”

“I think once I just got out of that first inning," Brooks said, "I was able to walk back in and take a deep breath and reset and have a little fun, because sometimes we try to do too much. Just pressing a little bit and trying to make a spot.”

Brooks, like , is out of Minor League options. The two are vying for the final spot in the A's starting rotation with and . Blackburn and Montas are set to pitch on Saturday against the Indians.