Fantasy Baseball: Oakland’s Second Base Battle + Pitching Depth

Second Base Showdown

Franklin Barreto – ADP 576.09 / Jorge Mateo – ADP 504.86


   Barreto was once ranked as high as the #23 prospect in 2016 by That pedigree hasn’t translated to success with the Athletics since coming up in 2017. In three seasons, Barreto has played 80 games and sports a .189/.220/.378 slash line. The poor performance has left him all but forgotten in fantasy drafts. 

   2019 marked a career year for Barreto in the minor leagues. A .926 OPS with 19 home runs and 15 stolen bases in 98 games showcased his talent. The PCL is notorious for offense, so it’s not a given that it translates to Oakland. However, it’s hard to find a better definition of “free” in drafts than Barreto’s current ADP. Second base is wide open for the Athletics heading into Spring Training. Barreto will likely compete for the job against another post-hype prospect in Jorge Mateo. Mateo is going 70 picks before Barreto in NFC ADP. 

Mateo, despite not having an MLB debut is one year older than Barreto at 24. Mateo had his own resurgence in the minor leagues, posting a .834 OPS with 19 home runs and 24 stolen bases. Formerly a #30 prospect according to Mateo still has patience issues with a 5.1% walk rate, but his 25.6% strikeout rate last year isn’t alarming in this era of baseball. 

There is a third contender in Sheldon Neuse, who also had a career minor league year with a .939 OPS and 27 home runs. His lack of speed makes him the least-preferred option fantasy-wise. Further complicating matters for Oakland, Mateo and Barreto are out of options. Oakland won’t want to lose either player to waivers. If one impresses, the other will likely be packaged in a trade. Spring Training performances will play a huge role in Oakland’s future.

  Both Barreto/Mateo are similar in their path to fantasy relevance. The Power/speed combo is enticing. Barreto proved himself to be an efficient base-stealer last year, with a 93.75% steal success rate in 16 attempts. Mateo was successful in 68.5% of his 35 attempts. Mateo stole 52 bases in 2017 and has the edge in stolen base upside. Barreto has a bit more pop in his bat and has a slight advantage in power upside. 

If your draft is shallow, (300 picks or less), Barretto/Mateo may not be drafted unless one goes off in Spring Training. Knowing both names and monitoring them on the waiver wire could prove valuable. The deeper redraft formats/dynasties are the best places to draft Barreto/Mateo for now.

   For reference, I drafted in a start-up dynasty hosted by @dynastyonestop. I selected Barreto in round 30 pick 479. Evan (@Heyevanshaw) took Jorge Mateo in round 18 pick 276. Both player’s age, former pedigree, and 2019 minor league production give hope that we haven’t seen the best of Barreto/Mateo yet. 

  Intriguing Arms in Oakland

James Kaprielian – ADP 673.25/ A.J Puk – ADP 258.33/ Chris Bassitt – ADP 332.71


Photo Credit: Jordan McKittrick

    The depth of the Oakland Athletics is astounding. Right now the Athletics have a 1-3 rotation of Manaea, Montas, and Luzardo. I don’t want to comment on the #4 starter until we know more (Fiers), but at least for now, the #5 spot is “open”. Unless something drastic happens, it is A.J. Puk’s spot to lose. There is a reason Puk is being drafted at his ADP of 258. Kaprielian is the outsider looking in, but could force his way into the 2020 rotation at some point.

   A.J Puk has a clear path to 2020 relevancy. He impressed the A’s in his short cup of coffee last season. Puk pitched a light 11.2 innings with a 3.18 ERA and 10.3 K/9. His draft price reflects his expectations, as he’s the only person on this list to have an ADP below 300 in redraft formats. Puk certainly doesn’t come cheap in dynasty drafts, as he got selected in round 9 at pick 140 in the @dynastyonestop draft. Considering Puk is major league ready, it’s not a surprise to see him that high.

He has dealt with injuries, only pitching 25.1 innings in 2017 and missing the entire 2018 season. This is a potential Top 10 fantasy type ace looking forward to 2021/2022. His innings limit + the competition are the reason his draft price is 258 in redraft, though a steller spring training could bring him closer to his teammate Luzardo, who is drafted at a 128 ADP.

Even with the likelihood of Puk being in the opening day rotation, it’s worth looking at his competition, as injuries/innings limits could mean relevancy for them in deeper fantasy leagues.

Chris Bassitt is in the conversation for the 5th starter, and to his credit, he had a fine 2019. 144 innings, 3.81 ERA, 1.194 WHIP and increased his K/9 to 8.8. His fantasy upside is limited by his strikeouts. There’s not much else to be said for Bassitt, as him winning the job is probably the last choice if it were up to fantasy baseball managers.

   Kaprielian has seen a tough journey, not pitching in 2017/2018 due to injuries. He returned in 2019 to pitch 68 innings between three minor league levels. The stats were solid with a 3.31 ERA, 1.183 WHIP, and a 9.9 K/9. Now 25 years old, Kaprielian is on the verge of being Major League ready. He is a buy-low candidate in dynasty leagues, but there is a path to 2020 impact. For reference, in the same dynasty league referenced for Barreto/Mateo and Puk, Kaprielian went in round 34 at pick 543.  The good news for Kaprielian is presumably Luzardo, (and Puk if he wins the spot), will have an innings limit for 2019.  This could open up appearances for Kaprielian. 

   This alone won’t bring him into relevancy outside of spot starts. Kaprielian has the same issue, innings limit, but if he pitches well that could be the door to unlocking a more permanent role. Because of injuries and how little he has pitched, even a best-case scenario might see 110-140 innings. So, like Barreto, in 12 team redraft leagues, it is better to monitor the situation through the waiver wire. Deep leagues where pitching gets thin in the later rounds is where Kaprielian does well as a flyer. If 2020 relevancy doesn’t happen, it’s an easy pick to drop because of his cost.

Because of the innings limits faced by much of Oakland’s rotation, the most likely scenario is all three arms see some time in the rotation. The pitching landscape in later rounds means the arm who wins the bulk of the innings should provide much-needed depth for a fantasy rotation.



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