With his recent struggles and talk of being demoted, could Maikel Franco be the next Domonic Brown for the Phillies?
Whether fair or unfair, every highly-anticipated Phillies prospect that struggles early on will draw comparisons to former Phillie and No. 1 overall prospect, Dom Brown.
The current Phillies player who has been struggling all season and could be labeled as the “next Dom Brown” is third baseman Maikel Franco.
Franco has had an abysmal start to the 2017 season, as he is hitting a slash line of .218/.270/.363 through 211 plate appearances. That is nowhere near where the Phillies would like him to be, to say the least.
Manager Pete Mackanin admitted a week ago that the team is considering sending him down to Triple-A to re-work his approach at the plate.
Plate discipline is general manager Matt Klentak focal talking point about when discussing his young hitters, so it does make sense for the Phillies to have him try and figure out his problems at the Triple-A level, as well as get some confidence back.
For some time Franco was one of the team’s most anticipated prospects but hasn’t shown any consistency at the plate. Fans have seen flashes of Franco’s outstanding power and ability to take advantage of pitchers’ mistakes, but not for any extended period of time.
But this doesn’t mean he should be compared to Brown just yet.
In my opinion, Franco hasn’t had nearly the production that Brown had during his tenure with the Phillies.
Everyone will turn to May of 2013 when Brown was one of the hottest hitters in baseball and ultimately earned himself a spot in the 2013 All-Star Game thanks to his outstanding performance in the first half of the 2013 campaign.
Brown finished the month of May with a line of .303/.303/.688 with 12 home runs and 25 RBIs in 109 plate appearances. His hot stretch during the month was one of the most exciting stretches for the Phillies in recent memory.
After that month of May, Brown never put up nearly the same amount of production and eventually wound up on the disabled list for much of the back half of the season. Those injuries ultimately led to his departure from the Phillies roster in 2015.
The difference between Brown and Franco is that Franco has never had a month that has even come close to Brown’s May.
Franco’s first full month with the Phillies back in June of 2015 was his best and most productive month. He finished the month with a batting average of .350 and eight home runs. But once major league pitchers had begun to recognize his bad habits, they began to exploit them and Franco has not had a month with that amount of productivity since.
We saw plenty of Franco’s struggles last season, as his average during the middle months of the season was nowhere near where the Phillies wanted it to be. But he hit .306 in the final month of the season, giving people hope that he could continue that plate discipline and contact over into 2017.
But that simply has not happened, and many fans have begun to lose their patience with Franco.
The main reason for this is because of the high expectations that came along with Franco when he was brought up to the big league club.
Franco was a very productive player while in the minor leagues and emerged as the next big prospect when in actuality Franco was just superior to those around him because the Phillies did not have nearly the amount of talent in the minor leagues two years ago as they do now.
This is very similar to Brown, who stood out amongst inferior prospects and was supposed to be the “next big thing” for the Phillies.
The Phillies organization has been patient with Franco throughout his struggles, but that patience may be short, as it was with Brown.
With an emerging core of young prospects in AA and AAA, the Phillies may look to find a superstar player to go along with that core. And with a player like Manny Machado available in free agency next offseason, Franco may not have long to prove he’s apart of the team’s long-term plans.
It’s still early to consider Franco the next Domonic Brown, but there’s still a chance he could become that over the next year and a half if he doesn’t improve at the plate.