Feature Photo: Mark Zagunis, OF, Cubs
The conclusion of Week 12 of MLB action puts us just one week shy of the official midway point of our season and also brought the arrival of 17 newcomers to the big leagues (huzzahs, please!), easily a non-Opening Week record for a single week of debuts.
After a slow start to the lazy, hazy, not-quite-yet-crazy days of summer, we had only two players debut over the first three days of the week before the week’s end brought a flurry of call-ups and debuts. By week’s end, our 2017 total had reached 128 (by comparison, we were at 115 at the end of Week 12 in 2016, and we would reach a total of 258 by season’s end).
June alone has brought us a crop of 43 new names through games of June 25 with five days to go, this in comparison to 30 June debuts in 2016.
The week was launched by the arrival of Oakland A’s infielder-turned-catcher-turned-pitcher Michael Brady making it to the majors in his ninth professional season. But it was a later Oakland move that got the buzzers buzzing. I could tell you about it, but I have something even better. My 2080 Baseball colleague Melissa Lockard just happens to be the guru of all things Oakland Athletics and she has kindly agreed to make a special guest ‘debuscribe’ appearance here on short notice before she picks up my reins for the next two weeks (see below) … so, take it away, Melissa!
As regular readers of Lisa’s fabulous column (Lisa note: I did not edit this, I just cut-and-paste it so … I’m blushing!!!) have no doubt noted, the Athletics are in the middle of a serious youth movement. Over the past few weeks, the A’s have recalled several prospects from Triple-A Nashville, including four over the past two weeks who have made their major league debuts. There was one notable omission from the list, however: A’s top prospect and shortstop Franklin Barreto. That all changed on Friday night, when rookie third baseman Chad Pinder injured his hamstring in Friday’s game against the White Sox. With Pinder landing on the DL, and regular starting shortstop Marcus Semien just beginning his minor league rehab stint on Friday, the A’s turned to Barreto.
All eyes were on Barreto for his debut, and he delivered in a big way (more on that in Lisa’s write-up). The 21-year-old has been performing well under the pressure of high expectations since he began his professional career as a July 2nd bonus baby in the Blue Jays’ chain. Before the 2015 season, Barreto was the key return for the A’s in the deal that sent future MVP Josh Donaldson (3B, Blue Jays) to the Great White North. Being a minor leaguer traded for a superstar is never easy, but Barreto handled the extra scrutiny with class. He hit .302 as a 19-year-old in the California League and .284 between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville last season. He was added to the A’s 40-man roster during the offseason and he gave everyone a taste of his immense talents by hitting .481 in 27 spring training at-bats. Throughout his professional career, Barreto has shown the ability to hit for average, and he has above-average power for a middle infielder. A natural shortstop, Barreto has also seen time at second base, as well, the past two seasons.
Barreto got off to a fast start with Nashville this season, but after a month-long slump during which he didn’t draw a single walk, the talk about an early-season promotion cooled off. Barreto got his bat going again 10 days ago, however, putting him in perfect position to make the leap to the big leagues when injuries struck the A’s. Barreto wasn’t in the original Saturday lineup for the A’s, but when Jed Lowrie tweaked his knee, Barreto took Lowrie’s place at second base. How much Barreto plays initially will depend on the health of Lowrie, Pinder and Semien, but once the July trade deadline passes, look for the five-tool talent to be an everyday fixture in a rebuilding A’s lineup.
As mentioned, the next two issues of Debutantes Ball will be brought to you completely by Melissa who is an absolute goddess for filling in for me while I’ll be on vacation. I mean, while I’m out going to baseball games every night to scout out more talent.
Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll be on vacation in a place where there is NO baseball and NO baseball coverage and I’ve made a solemn vow to my family not to waste my cell data and down time checking out transaction wires and box scores. In other words, I’m going cold turkey for two weeks because I know everything will be in really good hands. (That means that as soon as I get home the first thing I’ll do will be to call up Debutantes Ball on my laptop, just like I’m sure the rest of you do on a regular basis … right? Right?)
(Reminder! The MLB Debut table is also found by clicking the Spotlights Tab on our home page, and scrolling to the top sub-menu selection.)