Position: Third Base
Bats/Throws: Right / Right
Birthday/Age: August 26, 1992 (20)
Ht/Wt: 6' 1", 180 pounds
How he became a Phillie: Signed as an international free agent on February 24, 2010.
Defense: Franco has shown solid defensive skills and impressive natural instincts for playing third base. He gets a quick jump on balls hit to either side of him and has a plus arm that is not only strong, but accurate. There isn't any reason to believe that the Phillies would consider moving Franco off of third base, because he's strong enough defensively and has a good enough bat for the position.
|Maikel Franco's league comparison|
|STAT||SOUTH ATLANTIC LEAGUE AVERAGES||FRANCO'S STATS|
Scouting Report: The only real tool that's missing for Franco is speed. He's not necessarily slow, but ranks average at best when it comes to speed. He stole the first three bases of his professional career last season at Lakewood and shouldn't really be counted on doing too much more on the basepaths. After struggling at the start of the 2012 season, Franco rebounded and put up the type of numbers that he projects to show. Franco finished with 14 home runs and a .280 average thanks to a torrid run from the first of June through the end of the South Atlantic League season when he hit .356 with 17 home runs and 43 RBI.
If you're looking for a chink in the armor, you can look at Franco's walk ratio. In 2010 and 2011, Franco walked once every 12.2 plate appearances. In 2012, the number went to one walk every 14.6 plate appearances. Not a dramatic jump and not too concerning, considering that his strikeout rate went down from once every 506 plate appearances to one every 6.9 plate appearances.
What they're saying about Franco: Phillies Director of Player Development, Joe Jordan: "Maikel had a tremendous two months of the season. He really struggled early, but he didn't give into it and I think he found out a lot about himself with how he approached the final two months. Franco has a strong arm and plays good defense. He figures to be ready for the next challenge."
Ceiling: There are enough tools for Franco to at least become a solid major league third baseman, who could well find his way into an all-star game or two if all goes right. It's going to be interesting to see how the Phillies handle their future third base situation, because Franco and Cody Asche both project to be solid third basemen and both play the position well. There isn't really any reason to move either off of third base, except for the fact that they've got two strong players and they will want both to be in the lineup at the same time somewhere down the road.
ETA: Franco struggled when he first came to Lakewood in 2011 and struggled there again at the start of the 2012 season, so it's not out of the question that he's going to need some time to adjust to Clearwater. It's also possible that with all of the progress that he made in 2012, that he might have figured out enough to handle the Florida State League right from day one. Would the Phillies skip him over Clearwater and send him to Double-A Reading? Possible, but Asche may be returning to Reading at least to start the season, so it's not likely that Franco will make a double-jump. It wouldn't be surprising to see Franco start to fast track himself a little after moving a little slowly for the first couple seasons of his professional career. Look for Franco to be in the discussion for a major league job coming into the 2015 season.
Maikel Franco's career stats