As many of you know, third baseman Maikel Franco has jumped onto the scene as the next Phillies star with a great year split between High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. But what should/can the Phillies do with Franco in the future?
Franco’s achievements in 2013 were rewarded with a spot on the World roster in the All-Star Futures Game in July. More recently, he was honored with the 2013 Paul Owens Award, which is an annual award given to the Phillies top minor league performer.
His statistics this season were tremendous. He finished the season leading all Phillies prospects in hits (173), homeruns (31), runs batted in (103), batting average (.320), and slugging percentage (.569). His play saw him jump from being ranked the 11th-best prospect in the Phillies organization by MLB.com to No. 2 by the end of the season. He hit .339 with the AA Fightin’ Phils, leading the Eastern league in home runs (15) during his 70 games there. In addition, unlike many power hitters in Phillies history—Mike Schmidt, Pat Burrell, Ryan Howard—he doesn’t strike out a lot. He only had 70 strikeouts in 541 at-bats and posted an impressive .356 on-base percentage.
But you shouldn’t expect him to put up these numbers in Philadelphia . . . yet. The Phillies should give him one more year in Double-A because this year was the first year he started hitting like top prospect. He’s not ready to be a big league star just yet. He needs a little more work in the minors, but he could definitely be a September call-up in 2014. He’s only 21 years old, so he’s not too old to not keep in the farm another year.
Another big reason he should stay in the minors for 2014 is because of his position. His natural position is third base, which means he is blocked by another stud prospect, Cody Asche, who has recently been producing for the big league team. After a stellar season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Asche was called up this summer and is hitting .266 with 19 RBIs and has been playing third base like a Gold Glove winner.
Franco mostly played third base in 2013, and was moved to first base for just the last few weeks of the Fightin’ Phils’ season. He needs to play first base for a full season before he’s ready to come up at that position.
If you’re a Phillies fan, you have reason to be excited about Maikel Franco, but you will have to wait a little before you get to see him play in Philadelphia.