2014 Phillies Report Card: Maikel Franco
What does that word mean to you? From artists to politicians to baseball people, this multifaceted word wields lots of power, and calibrating it properly is critical. As it relates to baseball – and, specifically, Phillies rookie Maikel Franco – perspective is important for realizing exactly what a given thing means at a point in time.
Take Franco, who turned 22 years old just shy of two months ago: a near-consensus top-100 pick (or better!) made his debut for the Phillies this summer and logged 58 plate appearances. By and large, they were not great plate appearances, but this is where that pesky word “perspective” comes into play, full-bore.
Consider: a relative unknown until 2013, Franco signed out of the Dominican Republic for a $100,000 bonus in the wee hours of 2010 who will likely play either 3B or 1B for the Phillies moving forward. He treaded water in professional ball as a teenager, but switched over to baseball hack-and-slasher for 2013 and made great strides in High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. That was more than enough to ignite the curiosity of a Phillies fanbase that is eager to forget the disappointment of Domonic Brown‘s early career.
Franco is not without flaws, however. Whether he can stick at the hot corner remains a questionable proposition, especially while Cody Asche lingers as something of a steady option in the meantime. Some scouts question his swing mechanics, and his plate discipline won’t exactly inspire comparisons to Joey Votto.
However – as Eric wrote last year – the pure swing skills imply impact bat. This is a guy who could make a difference for a run-starved offense, even if he has to play 1B in the end. If the Phillies are as aggressive in trying to move Ryan Howard this winter as some suggest they might be, look for Franco’s playing time to spike.
The 58 PA this year? No, they aren’t blowing the doors off anybody’s Yugo, but the simple fact that Franco made strides long enough to warrant promotion this season speak volumes. He struggled early in his season but recovered nicely, and his experience with the parent club this year can only help. His first home run will come. Hell, if Ben Revere can do it, nobody else has any excuse.
Perspective. A 21-year-old who’s been in pro ball for less time than it takes a typical student to finish college made it all the way to the Majors. It’s an indication of promise more than immediate profit, but that counts all the same.