Philadelphia Phillies top prospect, 3B Maikel Franco, has had an inauspicious start to the 2014 season. Entering play last Sunday (April 20), the 21-year old corner infielder was hitting only .111/.200/.130, with a 25.9% strikeout rate, and rarely hitting the ball out of the infield.
He boasted only one extra-base hit and a .150 BAbip through his first 15 games, both indicative of the weak contact he had been producing in his first taste against Triple-A pitching.
As a prospect facing tougher competition for the first time, at more than six years under the average age for the level, it’s understandable that an adjustment period would be necessary.
Additionally, 15 games is hardly an appropriate sample size to pass any definitive judgements on a player. For crying out loud, Miguel Cabrera was hitting .220/.292/.356 through that many games – it’s just not a significant amount of time. Most of Franco’s problems have stemmed from his swing, as by most reports the other parts of his game are strong.
One anonymous scout described his struggles to Baseball America last week:
He’s a little bit overmatched up at the plate, not in the field. …he’s got a really quick first step, he’s got good reactions, he’s quick coming in on balls …and making …accurate throws. He profiles at the position, really, to me, as a future All-Star. …The problem with him right now is he’s pull-happy to left field. …he’s going to be fine. He’s got bat speed and he’s got bat strength.
Over the last seven games, Franco’s made significant progress and improved his quality of contact along the way. He’s hit .290/.313/.484 with four of his nine hits going for extra-bases, including his first Triple-A HR.
The bomb was a no-doubter, drilling a mistake pitch left up-in-the-zone by Preston Guilmet.
Additionally, Franco stole his first base of the season (don’t expect many of those), and struck out at a much better rate (only 4 K/31 AB) during that span. A little more patience than displayed would be nice, but again it is only over one week.
It’s hardly time to demand he be called up, or that 3B Cody Asche be abandoned at the major league level (despite his similarly cold start).
On the whole, Franco is still only hitting .176/.239/.259 through 22 games. Hopes are he continues his strong play of the past week as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs take on the Pawtucket PawSox at home, tonight at 7:05.
Last season, Franco hit 31 HR with a .320/.356/.569 slash line between High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading.