Franklin Barreto: The Key to the Josh Donaldson Trade

I’ll try to complete the FanGraphs analysis of the Josh Donaldson deal, with Dave covering the A’s perspective of the deal and Drew Fairservice covering it from the Jays perspective while I’ll jump in with the prospect end of things. Those two prior pieces do a good job analyzing the various angles of this deal, with the main question being what the next few moves are for Oakland, since they seem far from done shuffling their roster.

Dave’s piece made the points that the gap between Donaldson and Brett Lawrie may be smaller than 2013-2014 would lead you to believe, so if one of the prospects end up as a star or a piece that can be used in another deal, it could swing the balance of the deal toward Oakland.  There’s an expectation that Lawrie won’t match Donaldson’s production, hence the three minor leaguers included. While Lawrie will be the player watched most closely in 2015 from this deal, one exec I talked to last night said Franklin Barreto is the key to the deal, so let’s start with him.

Franklin Barreto, 2B, Oakland A’s
Hit: 20/55, Raw Power: 45/45, Game Power: 20/45, Speed: 60/60, Fielding: 45/50+, Throwing: 55/55, FV: 50

Barreto was known to international scouts for years before he signed for $1.45 million on July 2nd, 2012 from Venezuela.  There’s something to be said for smaller kids reaching their potential sooner than the more projectable, higher upside prospects, but don’t mistake Barreto for a low upside prospect just due to his size. He’s a plus runner that very well could end up sticking at shortstop, where he plays now and has made improvements, though most scouts see his actions and size and assume he slides over to second base or out to center field. At the least, he’ll offer the ability to play all three positions in the big leagues if needed. The above video is from when I scouted Barreto in instructs last year.

Barreto is well-built for 5’9/175 and his swing does a good job staying balanced for contact while also transferring his weight and giving him a chance to hit 10-15 homers per year at maturity.  That said, the carrying tool here is the bat and more than a few scouts told me they have a 60 on it, even though Barreto is still 18 and hasn’t played in a full-season league yet. He has an innate feel for the bat head, above average bat speed and the speed to play small ball if he chooses and run out ground balls in the infield.

Barreto is about as polished as a kid his age can be, with his position the only question, so if Oakland wants to move him quickly, moving him to second base could mean getting him to High-A later in his age-19 season and being a possible call-up to the big leagues late in his age-20 season if everything continues at this rate: think Rougned Odor.

It’s also worth noting that Barreto is one of the most universally praised and known players to clubs among those that hasn’t made a full-season debut yet.  He also hasn’t failed yet in pro ball, so his trade value is consistent team-to-team, which helps Oakland if they have another big trade in mind because their system isn’t overflowing with premium prospects.


Video Credit to MLBProspectPortal

Sean Nolin, LHP, Oakland A’s
Fastball: 45/50, Curveball, 45/50, Slider: 40/45+, Changeup: 50/55, Command: 45/50+, FV: 45

Nolin was a lower-profile amateur, signing for $175,000 in the 6th round in 2010 out of San Jacinto JC in Texas.  He’s a sturdy 6’4/230 but doesn’t have the power repertoire you might expect; while his stuff grades out around average, most scouts call it fringy in terms of what’s expected from a starting pitching prospect.  Nolin got a cup of coffee in 2013, then a groin injury hindered him this year; he spent most of the year in Triple-A, got another cup of coffee at the end of the season, then headed to the Arizona Fall League to get more innings.

Nolin sits 89-91 and will touch as high at 95 mph, particularly to elevate late in the count for strikeouts, with an average curveball that’s more consistent than his slider and an above average changeup to go with advanced feel to pitch.  Nolin gets good plane and deception from his delivery, but his fastball is pretty straight and when his mechanics get out of whack, he can elevate.  This has made him more of a fly ball pitcher with less margin for error the higher up the ladder he goes, as he lacks a true out-pitch and that extra tick of velocity is important in the big leagues, which means Nolin can overthrow at times, leaving the ball up.

He projects as a back-end starter, as there’s enough stuff and feel to stick in the rotation and he could be a #4 starter if it all goes right and his command plays up, but he’s more likely a #5 starter with some shot to be more of a long reliever if he can’t address these concerns.  Nolin should be able to contribute in the big leagues in 2015 to some degree, but he could spend a good bit of time in Triple-A making adjustments.

Kendall Graveman, RHP, Oakland A’s
Fastball: 45/50, Cutter, 45/50, Changeup: 50/55, Command: 45/45+, FV: 40

Graveman was the lowest profile of these three as an amateur, signing for $5,000 in the 8th round in 2013 out of Mississippi State.  He was a sinker/slider specialist in college that worked in the high-80’s and touched the low-90’s, but his stuff picked up in 2014.  This video is from when I scouted him this season for Dunedin in High-A.  In this game, Graveman worked 88-92 and hit 93 mph, flashing above average to plus run, sink and cut on the pitch, depending on where in the zone that he threw it.

He also threw an 84-87 mph cutter that was average but inconsistent and an 81-85 mph changeup that flashed above average, though he didn’t throw it enough and at times he would telegraph the pitch by slowing his arm.  He worked 91-95 mph in the big leagues later in the year over 5 relief outings, so we know there are a couple more ticks of velo with adrenaline in short stints.

Graveman’s fringy stuff with some command as an amateur has turned into solid average stuff at times, with enough feel to fit in a rotation if he keeps progressing. He shot form Low-A to the big leagues this year, but was never a guy that missed bats; he struck out 6.2 per 9 IP in 172 innings this year over all five full-season levels. If he can tighten his cutter or breaking ball (he threw a slider and curve in college) to consistently average and use his changeup more often, there’s a #5 starter here.

However, he’ll be 24 next season, and he’s an ordinary 6’2/195 righty with a long arm action and little track record of success.  There’s some sort of big league value here and with the added velo in relief, I think it may be as a multi-inning middle reliever/spot starter/long man.



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Kiley McDaniel has worked in the scouting departments of the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates and has written for ESPN, among other outlets. Follow him on twitter for real-time thoughts on the players he’s seeing and hacky attempts at humor.


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Forrest Gumption
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Forrest Gumption
1 year 6 months ago

Do these three get flipped for Alexei Ramirez?

Jose Maldonado
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Jose Maldonado
1 year 6 months ago
AJP
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1 year 6 months ago

No.

Psmith
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Psmith
1 year 6 months ago

maybe nolin and graveman but Barretto Keith Law has been calling a sleeper for a few months.

Jose Maldonado
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Jose Maldonado
1 year 6 months ago
jim fetterolf
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jim fetterolf
1 year 6 months ago

Kiley, how would you comp Barreto to the Royals’ Mondezi?

Matt
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Matt
1 year 6 months ago

He would probably say he is more like Rougned Odor.

Steven
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Steven
1 year 5 months ago

That’s an interesting comparison now that you mention it.

everdiso
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everdiso
1 year 6 months ago

as always, jays prospects only get credit after they’re traded away, much loke syndergaard.

barreto is pretty awesome, no doubt, but we never heard about that until beane got him. fact is the jays system is pretty stacked right now – as good as barreto is, he wasn’t even a clearcut top five prospect in the system.

heck, even nolin and graveman, as pedestrian as they are, are equivalent prospects to, say, all that supposed great mid-20s AAA pitching the red sox were so praised for last year,though they struggled to belong in the jays top 15 prospects.

James
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James
1 year 6 months ago

It’s all age. He’s too young and low to be considered in the top 5. A year later and a level higher and he would have jumped over the guys he’s already better than.

everdiso
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everdiso
1 year 6 months ago

personally i had him in my top five along with pompey, norris, sanchez, wuth guys like osuna, hoffman, pentacost in the mix too, and barreto not necessarily behind them, but not many would have agreed.

but its hard to say its just age that held him down in the rankings – all the names i listed there have comparable upside to barreto too, not just advanced age and level.

Free_AEC
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1 year 5 months ago

Who’s we Kemosabe?

Ben Badler tweets almost as much about Barreto at age 18 as he did Odor when he was 19.

Beane will give Barreto away long before he wears an Athletic’s uniform.

Still amazed he gave up Addison Russell for…._that_.

_

Highlight and Google: John Powers Middleton Felony Fraud

_

arc
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1 year 5 months ago

You’re so full of shit.

Not Kidding
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Not Kidding
1 year 6 months ago

This is great stuff Kiley. What I am going to say now is slightly off topic, and for that I apologize, but I think it is relevant to all this talk about the A’s going after a SS now.

Now, I am pretty sure this will get shutdown by all around, but I think Donaldson could have shifted over to SS for the A’s. He charges and bare hands with the best of them. He’s got a cannon. He has insane range (half of his highlight plays are balls he steals from SS). The guy can absolutely play SS. Have you seen the balls he chases down in foul territory? Now imagine him going into shallow left. Heck he played SS already (every time the A’s shifted). Why give Donaldson the whole left side of the infield and put lowrie on the right side? Because Donaldson had better range. Why the A’s didn’t consider this is beyond me.

I wouldn’t even question the Jays if they decided to play Donaldson at SS over Reyes and move Reyes to 2B.

Matt
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Matt
1 year 6 months ago

I suppose it’s possible. Peralta probably has similar lateral quickness and is rated highly by defensive metrics at SS. I think GM’s should be more willing to try these kinds of moves more generally – so I agree with the notion of at least giving it a shot to see how it works out.

Avattoir
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Avattoir
1 year 6 months ago

How are their turns on the DP? I’ve never felt Lawrie at 6′ 210 to be at all convincing at 2B primarily for that reason, and Donaldson’s an inch or 2 taller and 15 pounds or more heavier.

Not Kidding
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Not Kidding
1 year 6 months ago

No really. Donaldson is as Athletic as Tulo. But maybe that is my untrained eye fooling me. Kiley, what do you think? Try to scout Donaldson as if you didn’t know he was a former catcher. As if he were a prospect. Do you think he could play SS?

Steven
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Steven
1 year 6 months ago

How do walk rates play into a pitcher’s command grade? For Graveman’s career, he’s walked 44 batters in 207 innings (1.91 per 9). I know that command is not equal to control, but if he was throwing pitches down the middle of the plate in order to keep his walk rate that low, I would have thought that his average stuff would have gotten hit more than it was.

Ulysses
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Ulysses
1 year 6 months ago

I’m relatively high on Graveman because of this. There’s a long history of control artists surpassing scouting expectations.
A question for Kiley: from a scouting perspective, why is command being considered but not control?

Johnston
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1 year 6 months ago

How about a comparison between Barreto and Russell, the shortstop prospect the A’s traded away?

isavage30
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isavage30
1 year 6 months ago

The prospect side of this just looks so weak for the A’s. A couple pitchers who don’t seem to have much of any upside, and an infield prospect a few years away (never a sure thing). I find it hard to believe that if Donaldson was available, that Cleveland wouldn’t have made Lindor available. With Jose Ramirez and a hole at 3b, Donaldson would have been one of a couple guys it would make sense to move Lindor for. I can think of numerous packages from the Cleveland side that would look a lot better than this and that I’d think the Indians would have been willing to do. Maybe they aren’t trading Lindor though, even for Donaldson (which I think is dumb, if that’s the case) But you’d think someone would have given up more than this. The A’s seem to be banking on Lawrie, which with his injuries, seems like a really bad bet.

Balthazar
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1 year 6 months ago

Cleveland isn’t moving Lindor period, and have been pretty vocal about that. That’s not to disagree that, potentially, an expensive and talented major league ready prospect couldn’t have been got back for Donaldson. But that misses the point: Beane and his higher minds wanted a package of parts for higher aggregate value and the ability to switch guys out in multiple subsequent deals. That minimizes risk if one guy busts. I think you’re underselling the usefulness of the prospects that Oakland got back also just because they didn’t, and won’t, sit at the top of anyone’s prospect sheets.

isavage30
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isavage30
1 year 6 months ago

I don’t think back-end starters/long relievers normally have much of any usefulness in deals. Those are the type of players that pretty much every organization should have a couple of and you don’t normally go out and trade for, other than as a throw-in to a deal. If Donaldson were a year from free agency, then the prospects they got would make sense.

The A’s were also vocal that they were not going to move Donaldson, period. It could be that Cleveland is hanging on to Lindor at all costs, but normally there are exceptions, like, we’re not trading Lindor, period, unless we’re getting a right-handed power-hitting MVP-candidate 3rd baseman that would essentially complete our team for the next 3 years back. Heck, could probably even come up with some Cleveland-based trades that wouldn’t involve Lindor that would stack up to this. Jose Ramirez, Lonnie Chisenhall, TJ House, plus one prospect with upside from the lower levels?

Forrest Gumption
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Forrest Gumption
1 year 5 months ago

Please do not forget that this deal came from TOR, not OAK. Beane was not shopping Donaldson, at all. TOR kept asking for him but Beane said “Put Lawrie on the table and I’ll think about it” which they kept shying away from…until AA couldn’t resist any longer.

If Beane wanted Lindor and they asked, he would told them Donaldson was unavailable, and the Indians would have walked away. Because Lindor is a prospect, and despite trading Donaldson, the A’s are not truly rebuilding. If it was all prospects in return it would be, but this is a clear re-load that also gives the A’s between $40-50M in future funds to allocate to other players, as Donaldson becomes very expensive after 2015, and even if Lawrie fully breaks out, he won’t come close to those 3 arby years Donaldson has left, as Lawrie only has 2 of those types of years left and would have to get multiple seasons with MVP votes and All-star game selections to get to JD’s level – which would mean he’d be expensive for max 1 season.

Basebull
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Basebull
1 year 6 months ago

I understand why A’s fans are miffed, but I think I’m with Cameron on this. I think a healthy Lawrie and a (slightly regressed) Josh Donaldson aren’t actually that far apart in performance. Baretto could be legit and I trust the A’s ability to extract value from fringy back of the rotation pitchers. (Milone, Chavez, Straily, etc.) It’s not fun for fans, but these are the sorts of moves an A’s team has to pull to stay relevant.

Balthazar
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1 year 6 months ago

Lawrie is never going to produce Donaldson’s present value in any year, in my opinion, and the value isn’t that close either. But the value of the package is actually respectable, and of the kind Oakland gets the best from. Donaldson was moved at the top of his value before Oakland had to pay him well. That stings for Oakland fans, but really, why is anyone surprised? This is exactly how Trader Bill has operated for going on two decades. The As _don’t do_ long-term, so they flip assets at peak. And really: who was Josh D. even two years ago? I’d be more concerned about the starting rotation if I was an As fan frankly, And Billy the Human Beane seems strongly focused on a re-boot there. Don’t think this off-season’s done.

Forrest Gumption
Member
Forrest Gumption
1 year 5 months ago

How does your opinion on possible future performance even matter? Why post that? Lawrie might have stolen your girlfriend in high school and you have a personal vendetta against him. Saying “Lawrie is never going to produce Donaldson’s present value in any year” is just pointless to write, so please dont.

What we do know is he hit 12 HR in 70 G last year. That’s 27 over 162, which is pretty much exactly what Donaldson provides. Lawrie makes highlight reel plays, same as Donaldson. Only difference is one plays on turf in TOR+TB(often) and one does not and probably related to that – one has injuries and one does not. What if Donaldsons knees don’t agree with the turf and Lawries body enjoys the cold nights and grass of O.co? Suddenly this deal becomes a boon for Oakland. Beane knows what he’s doing more than pundits ever do. Except on the Holliday/Cargo trade – but that was Wolfe’s doing.

isavage30
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isavage30
1 year 6 months ago

If you can extract value from fringy back-of-the-rotation pitchers that’s one thing, but why would you trade Josh Donaldson to get such players? Why not just like, sign Aaron Harang? Or trade a lesser piece?

Forrest Gumption
Member
Forrest Gumption
1 year 5 months ago

Because the A’s scouts believe them to be more than fringy back of rotation types.

Has anyone looked at Graveman’s actual numbers? They are insane. Yeah yeah he’s not a big K guy but he’s a “keeping runs off the board” guy and that’s more important. Nolin was a guy Beane wanted all year, that alone should mean he’s more than average.

Brownie
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Brownie
1 year 5 months ago

A healthy Lawrie is an oxymoron.

However, I would expect Red Bull sales in Oakland to increase.

Forrest Gumption
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Forrest Gumption
1 year 5 months ago

Yeah and its not like Donaldson plays the game pretty much in the exact same way as Lawrie or anything. Oh wait, he totally does. Lets see how that turf effects HIS health.

Matt
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Matt
1 year 5 months ago

How would you compare Barreto to Andrew Velazquez, who was also recently traded? They seems physically similar being around 5’8″ 175lb and possess plus speed with a bit of pop. Barreto seeminly has a slightly better hit tool. You stated in Velaquez write-up that he might also move to 2B or some sort of Utility role.

Seems odd one is a key piece in a trade for an MVP caliber player while the other was shipped off for spare parts. Is the hope that Barreto’s younger age could allow for slightly more physical projection? Or is this just the difference in the value of a 50 OFP vs. a 45 OFP guy?

Garold
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Garold
1 year 5 months ago

I have no idea who Velaquez is so I can’t compare him to Barreto but I’m a Jays fan who follows their prospects. People who don’t follow Barreto are massively underating how good of a hitter he is. He was 18 playing for Vancouver this year and he was one of the best hitters in the league. He has always hit. I hated losing him in this deal more than Lawrie.

Rams
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Rams
1 year 5 months ago

Completely agree, Barreto, in my opinion, is massively underrated at this point in his career. He was widely considered the best international prospect coming out of Venezuela a few years ago and got a huge bonus. Since then, all he has done is hit (for both power and avg) and steal bases with impressive efficiency. Keep in mind he has generally been one of the youngest players at every level he’s competed at. Still, prospect guru’s/ publications tend to overlook his validity as a top 100-150 type guy. I think the fact that Beane was willing to pull the trigger on this type of deal underscores Barreto’s potential value as a dynamic major league regular

Mike Green
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Mike Green
1 year 5 months ago

Graveman apparently developed more consistency with the cutter. It was a new pitch for him last year, and is said to be the reason he took such a leap forward from low A to the majors in 2014.

Projecting pitching is so hard. A pitcher learns a new pitch, and then everything clicks sometimes.

john
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john
1 year 4 months ago

Franklinbarreto.com may be a hot website, I hope he owns it.

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