Maikel Franco Scouting Report (2014)
Top prospect Maikel Franco is off to a slow start for Lehigh Valley, slashing .209/.263/.327. After a breakout campaign between High-A and Double-A, the Phillies future third baseman has disappointed, causing prospect followers to wonder when and if he’ll be ready to man the hot corner in 2014. And with Cody Asche struggling in Philadelphia, who can blame them? Before scouting Franco against the Gwinnett Braves, it had been two years since making the trek across Atlanta to Lawrenceville. Franco was a great “get” for ROTOscouting and proved worth the trip even though the numbers are light. Plus, the Triple-A Braves are prospect laden for the International League. Christian Bethancourt, Edward Salcedo, Tommy La Stella and others will have me busy writing reports (both scouting and YOUscout) for weeks to come.
Listed at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Maikel Franco presents as a much larger man (210 pounds?). With thin legs and calves, but a larger upper body, one is forced to wonder if the 21-year old spends much time in the weight room? However, his leaner lower half allows for surprising agility. As Franco matures and reaches full physical development, it’s possible the upper and lower half evens out, leaving a strong, well-proportioned slugger. For now, Maikel Franco is a prospect whose frame will require monitoring by the organization.
In batting practice, Franco did not present with light tower power. What he did show was the ability to barrel pitches consistently, resulting in hard line drives to the pull side. Maikel Franco struggled to work the other way in batting practice though, consistently swinging early and popping up pitches. It was a precursor for the game to follow. When Franco finally opened it up, a screaming line drive smashed into a cement retaining wall 15 feet above the outfield fence in left field. Yes, the raw power is there, even if he’s not tapping into it yet this season.
In five plate appearances, Maikel Franco came away with two hits including a single and double, highlighting what he does well offensively. With plus bat speed, Franco attacked a first pitch fastball from Cody Martin and laced a clean single to right-center field. Later, another first pitch fastball was left on the inner half and pounded for a double to left field. Franco showed both the ability to turn on fastballs in and sit back (to a point) on pitches away. Plus, the right-handed hitter presented with a strong feel for contact and impressive barrel control. Pitch sequencing and Franco’s aggressive nature limited the number of breaking pitches he was thrown. This is probably by design considering Maikel Franco’s struggles and the number of Triple-A pitchers who are able to throw “fringy” breaking stuff for strikes.
All three of Franco’s outs were on fastballs up, resulting in a pop up and shallow fly ball to the right side, as well as a swinging strikeout. As in batting practice, Franco’s swings at outside pitches found him out front. Scouting notes included the term “hyper aggressive” in describing how Franco attacked the hard stuff. After looking back at the game log, it might be a slight overstatement, but the point is clear. Pitch selection is an area for Franco to work on. And if he’s attacking fastballs to avoid seeing soft stuff, it will be awhile before he’s truly MLB ready.
On defense, Maikel Franco has the agility to stick at third base for the time being — with work. In some ways, he reminded me of Nolan Arenado from his time in the South Atlantic League. Like the Rockies third baseman, Franco fielded everything to him, but struggled with lateral footwork and movement. Plus, the third baseman frequently sat back on ground balls and fielded balls high instead of charging and cutting down the throwing distance. As a result, Maikel Franco’s throws repeatedly tailed into the first base line. It’s a sign the arm strength is fighting to be strong enough to stick at the position.
Whatever speed Franco does have will erode with physical development. Just remember he’s a decent athlete at present.
The big take away from scouting Maikel Franco is the fact he’s not ready for Philadelphia. One has to appreciate his playing an average of 133 games the past two seasons, but better focus honing his offense and defense is needed in the hours before first pitch. Once Franco matures mentally and physically, he’ll become a productive Major Leaguer with the potential to hit for average and power. But while offensive production similar to Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado is possible, both are premium defenders and add value with the glove. Maikel Franco isn’t that — at least not yet.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Starting first baseman on second division team Hitting Ability 40 55 Power 45 55 Speed 30 25 Fielding Ability 35 45 Arm 40 45
Owning Maikel Franco
In fantasy baseball, Franco was overvalued last winter. This is what’s dangerous about a stats first approach. For the Lindy’s Fantasy Baseball Annual, I ranked him highly based on video and analyzing the statistics. I should know better after six years! Appreciate Maikel Franco for what he is, but understand he’s more of a work in progress than fantasy owners think. Right now, thousands of dynasty league owners are wondering what happened to their prized asset? This may present as an opportunity to pilfer the right-handed hitter for a lesser player with better stats. Act quickly, however, as Franco is starting to hit in Triple-A.
6 May 2014 / Mike Newman /
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