2014 Phillies Report Card: Maikel Franco

PERSPECTIVE.

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.

Grade: B

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10 comments

  1. Chris

    October 14, 2014 09:45 AM

    Plug him in at 3rd next year and make him a full time starter. Dont put him at 3rd, then play some 1st, then abck to 3rd. We are not comepting for anything next year, so lets see what the kid has.

    I would not be opposed to sending Asche down to learn how to play 2nd. But dont flip them and make the rotational players. That is the LAST thing the organization needs to do.

    And I am adamant on his move to 1st. As a hitter, he has much, much more value as a 3rd baseman. Stick him at 3rd and worry what to do with Asche later.

    • JeffC

      October 14, 2014 10:48 AM

      They tried putting Asche at 2B in the minors before. It was a failure, so I doubt they would move him back to 2b.

      • Chris

        October 14, 2014 10:58 AM

        He has to keep working at it, because the phillies future of him at 3rd and Franco at 1st is not a good one. Franco at 3rd and Asche at 2nd gives us more upside and flexibility.

      • Pat

        October 14, 2014 12:37 PM

        It’s not really a matter of working at it. Asche just doesn’t have the physical tools to play 2B. Asche’s future is probably a platoon/bench player.

      • Chris S.

        October 14, 2014 01:45 PM

        Or an outfield corner. I think we should move Dom Brown to RF, move Asche to LF, and have Revere play CF next year. That means we trade Mr. Byrd to make the room.

      • Bob

        October 14, 2014 02:14 PM

        If you think Brown is bad in LF, he’s going to be even worse in RF. So, you’d have three bad defenders in the OF under the scenario of Asche, Revere, and Brown. A major league team will not compete for a championship with that porous of a defense.

    • Keystone

      October 14, 2014 02:10 PM

      I completely agree with Chris. Baseball prospectus grades Franco much higher than Asche.

      baseballprospectnation.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/scouting-report-maikel-franco-3b/

      baseballprospectnation.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/scouting-report-cody-asche-3b/

      On the 20-80 scouting scale, they grade Franco’s fielding at 50/60 and Asche at 30/40. A full 20 point difference! And the Arm is just what you want at the hot corner, Franco grades at 60/60 and Asche at 50/50. Why do so many people on this site say he’d be better at 1B? That seems like a complete waste of talent and a bad idea. Plus in the long term, playing alongside JP Crawford the left side of the infield would seem pretty decent.

      I would much rather see Franco at 3rd and stay there.

      • Keystone

        October 14, 2014 02:12 PM

        *Baseball Prospect Nation

  2. Pat

    October 14, 2014 10:08 AM

    Obvious SSS caveat, but Franco graded out well defensively and he looked good out there. I think his range might become an issue as he moves into his late 20s, but right now he’s better than Asche and he should be an asset defensively for the first half of his career.

    Unless he dramatically improves his plate discipline, I don’t think his bat is good enough to play at 1B. He reminds me of Pedro Feliz: pretty good power, moderate K rate, but poor plate discipline depresses his walk rate (obviously) and his batting average because he makes bad contact with a lot of pitches outside the zone.

    • Yo Mama

      October 14, 2014 10:51 AM

      it would be a tremendous disappointment if he didn’t significantly surpass feliz at the plate. in the field, different story.

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