Maikel Franco was promoted from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Friday after 33 games where Franco proved himself to be among the best prospects in baseball.
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After Phillies’ third baseman Cody Asche was demoted in order to begin the transition to left field, it was only a matter of moments before Franco would get a chance at the big leagues. Asche needed the demotion to work on approach at the plate after hitting .145 with a .172 on-base percentage through 58 games. After batting .355 with a .539 slugging percentage, it was clear that Franco deserved the opportunity. The Phillies hope that this promotion will yield better returns than that of his short stint last season, where Franco had a slash line of .179/.190/.214 and showed a considerable lack of discipline at the plate.
With an on-base percentage of .384 which is 85 points higher than his last stretch in Triple-A, Philadelphia fans have to hope his issues are resolved. His 5.3 percent walk rate in Triple-A Is still a concern, but with a batting average on balls in play of .404 and .184 Isolated Power it leading to four home runs and 24 RBIs, it would be difficult for the front office to justify keeping him in the minors much longer.
The 55th ranked prospect on MLB.com, the 22 year-old should be able to provide an offensive boots to an underwhelming Phillies lineup.
Offensively, he’ll need to display a more patient approach than his history suggests. With a strong load in his swing, he can look bad at off-speed pitches. There will undoubtedly be an adjustment period over the next month, but Franco’s bat control will help ease the transition. Defensively, Franco should be able to remain at third base, as he has the range and footwork to succeed.
In his seasonal debut, he went 0-4, with 2 ground outs, a fly out, and a strikeout on three straight pitches where Diamondbacks’ pitcher, Chase Anderson, made him look foolish on a change-up to end the at-bat.
In only his second game this season, the promotion paid off, as Franco went 2-for-4 with an RBI triple and a solo home run as the Phillies defeated the Diamondbacks on Sunday. Franco extended the Phillies’ lead to 3-0 in the sixth inning before hitting his first Major League home run in the eighth.
The timing of his promotion also gives Philadelphia another contract year before Franco hits free agency. Similar to the Chicago Cubs’ situation with Kris Bryant, the Phillies decided to delay a call-up that left Franco one day short of a full year of service time, meaning he won’t be eligible for free agency until 2022.
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Although this fact likely played a huge role in the promotion date, Phillies’ General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. claimed “This was a baseball decision based on Maikel’s development and performance. We believe he is ready for the next step” when speaking with The PhillyVoice. In a state of rebuild, the Phillies’ need that extra year of control so they will retain their potential star when they become a playoff-caliber team.
There are still a lot of games to be played before Franco proves he can be a consistent contributor on the major league level, but the Phillies are giving him the opportunity to prove it. With the Phillies sporting a 16-23 record, there’s very little reason to not give him an extended look.