Category Archives: Philadelphia Phillies

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Prospect Spotlight: Maikel Franco

Few prospects raised their stock more than Maikel Franco did this past season, as he rose from the ranks of the nobodies to become one of the best prospects in the Phillies organization.

Franco is currently ranked as the #26 best prospect and the #4 third base prospect in the game by MLB.com. Baseball Prospectus has Franco as the 52nd best prospect in baseball.  Seeing as Franco was not ranked on either website last year, he has really improved.

Maikel Franco was signed as an un-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, and was given a $100,000 contract. From 2010 through 2012, he was a big unknown, and many people had not heard of him.

In 2013, his natural tools came together, and he put together a very nice year, effectively becoming a top prospect. He split the season between Class A Advanced and Double A, and had a combined batting average of .320. In 541 at bats, he had 31 home runs and RBIs. Franco’s swing is picturesque, he is able to keep the bat in the hitting zone for an above average amount of time, which allows him to hit balls that some players wouldn’t be able to.

When you take a look at his swing (which can be seen in the video below), you can see that his swing is very level, which is usually not good for power, but Franco’s natural tools allow him to hit for power also. He is able to shift his weight very well, and he uses his hips to drive his swing, which creates velocity, as well as a violent swing that can send baseballs flying. Because of his violent swing, he does tend to swing and miss a lot, but that can be tolerated.

Franco has a good eye, but his approach definitely needs some polishing. He swings at strikes, even though they aren’t the best pitches. His most vulnerable spot is up in the zone, but he swings at almost all borderline strikes.

Defensively, Franco is not as talented, but he still plays an average third base. He knows the position well and he has the instincts, but his below average range could hurt his status at third. The Phillies have said that they are going to give a shot at first base this season, but a move isn’t imminent. Franco definitely has the arm to stay at third, but his range might be the one factor that would force him to make the move. Some scouts have said that Franco could be a possible fit at catcher, but that move is highly unlikely.

He is by no means speedy, and that is a factor that contributes to his below average range at third base. He had one steal this year, and surprisingly legged out three triples. He has improved his acceleration, but speed will never be a big part of his game.

He has certainly impressed people over the past couple of years, but it is highly doubtful that he will make an appearance this year. He might get a shot in September, but that seems highly unlikely. Franco will attend spring training with the major league club, but both Franco and fellow top Phillies prospect Jesse Biddle will likely start the season at double A Reading.  Out of the two, Franco has the best shot, because he would be competing against second-year third baseman Cody Asche, though Franco still has developing to do. If Asche has a bad first half to the year, do not be surprised if you see him in a Phillies uniform.

We can realistically expect Franco to compare to Pedro Alvarez, Ryan Zimmerman, and Adrian Beltre. All three are known because of their bat, and they all have below average defense. He definitely has the bat and the natural tools to be a star offensively. Franco is part of new wave of power hitting third basemen that will bring the deepball back to a few select parks around the league. Miguel Sano, Joey Gallo, Kris Bryant, and Franco are all young, talented prospects that should bring the deepball back to baseball.

With Franco and Biddle, along with Domonic Brown, the Phillies can definitely contend again in a few years, especially if the two prospects keep progressing over the next few seasons. The Phillies are relatively young at the major league level, and with a few more years of experience, the Phillies should be back to their winning form.

NL East Rundown

The NL East will be an interesting race this year to watch. Here’s my take on what will happen:

Division Champion: Nationals

Division MVP: Bryce Harper

Division CY Young winner: Jose Fernandez

Predictions:

1. Nationals (91-71)

2. Braves (89-73)

3. Marlins (80-82)

4. Mets (76-86)

5. Phillies (71-91)

Nationals:

I think they have real potential with young stars such as Stausburg and Harper leading the way. Veteran leadership will be key to a playoff run so watch for Zimmerman or another player to step into that role.

Braves:

They too, have great potential with a powerful offense. The Upton brothers along with Heyward and Uggla should keep them contending along with their pitching staff of Medlen leading the way along with their shut-down closer Kimbrel.

Marlins:

This may surprise some people but the Marlins might be a team in the next few years to contend with. This may not be the year but watch out for last year’s NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez along with Giancarlo Stanton.

Mets:

Even without their star pitcher Matt Harvey for the majority of the season, the Mets have a decent starting rotation with rising star Zach Wheeler and Bartolo Colon. The Mets must hope that Colon can retain his 2013 success which included 18 wins with the A’s. They Mets lineup includes David Wright and newcomer Curtis Granderson.

Phillies:

The Phillies have potential if their players can stay healthy. Their pitching staff with Lee and Hamels  should carry them some if they can get run support. With an aging lineup, look to see the Phillies start the rebuilding process.

NL East Rundown

The NL East will be an interesting race this year to watch. Here’s my take on what will happen:

Division Champion: Nationals

Division MVP: Bryce Harper

Division CY Young winner: Jose Fernandez

Predictions:

1. Nationals (91-71)

2. Braves (89-73)

3. Marlins (80-82)

4. Mets (76-86)

5. Phillies (71-91)

Nationals:

I think they have real potential with young stars such as Stausburg and Harper leading the way. Veteran leadership will be key to a playoff run so watch for Zimmerman or another player to step into that role.

Braves:

They too, have great potential with a powerful offense. The Upton brothers along with Heyward and Uggla should keep them contending along with their pitching staff of Medlen leading the way along with their shut-down closer Kimbrel.

Marlins:

This may surprise some people but the Marlins might be a team in the next few years to contend with. This may not be the year but watch out for last year’s NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez along with Giancarlo Stanton.

Mets:

Even without their star pitcher Matt Harvey for the majority of the season, the Mets have a decent starting rotation with rising star Zach Wheeler and Bartolo Colon. The Mets must hope that Colon can retain his 2013 success which included 18 wins with the A’s. They Mets lineup includes David Wright and newcomer Curtis Granderson.

Phillies:

The Phillies have potential if their players can stay healthy. Their pitching staff with Lee and Hamels  should carry them some if they can get run support. With an aging lineup, look to see the Phillies start the rebuilding process.