TBOH 2015 Phillies #2 Prospect – Maikel Franco (Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)
2. MAIKEL FRANCO, 3B
Maikel Franco was a Phillies international free agent signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 who started slow over his first two pro seasons. But in 2012 in his 2nd go-around at Lakewood, Franco busted out with a 14 homer-84 rbi season in which he hit .280 and also rapped out 32 doubles. In 2013, he took it a step further in a season split evenly between High-A Clearwater and AA-Reading. Franco blasted 31 homers, drove in 103 runs and hit .320 to establish himself as one of the top prospects in all of baseball. Coming into 2014, Baseball America had him as the #14 prospect in the game, and he was universally rated as a Top 50 prospect. As a 21- year old at AAA this year, Franco drilled 16 homers and 33 doubles, but his average dipped to .257 against the more experienced pitching. Still, the Phils felt he was ready for a September audition, and with the team out of postseason contention he got the call, making his big league debut on September 2nd at Atlanta. He started at 3rd base and got his first RBI in that game with an 8th inning sac fly. Three days later at Washington, Franco registered his first big league hit with an infield single in the top of the 11th that scored the go-ahead run. He later scored himself on a Ben Revere hit, giving him his first MLB run. He ended up hitting just .179 in 58 plate appearances, with 5 runs scored and 5 rbi, but his MLB career is underway. He is likely to begin getting much more regular time in Philly in 2015, though whether that time is at 3rd base or at 1st base depends on other roster developments. He is an excellent defender at 3rd, but the Phillies may want to leave young Cody Asche there, moving Franco across the diamond to concentrate on his power-hitting game. He should become an easy 25-homer guy, and could be a bit more.