BLUF: Very underrated player with plus offensive and defensive potential.
The Player: Maikel Franco (3B, Philadelphia Phillies) – Signed by the Phillies out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 for $100,000. Debuted in the Gulf Coast League as a 17-year old that summer, hitting just .222/.292/.330. Posted strong .287 average with 20 extra-base hits in 54 games as an 18-year old in the NYPL in 2011. Promoted to the South Atlantic League late in the year but struggled with a .123 average. Hitting much better with Lakewood in 2012 with a .264 average, 27 doubles and 14 home runs through 120 games.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (Instructional League 2009 and 2010, NYPL 2011, SAL 2012), Industry Contacts
Body (6-1, 195): Not a premium body but not a bad one either. Solid athlete. Body type could thicken up as he matures, particularly in lower half. Moves well.
Hit: Great feel for hitting. At least plus bat speed. Knows how to control the barrel and can make contact with ease. Tracks pitches well and adjusts to their movement mid-swing, but has ultra-aggressive approach, leading to more weak contact than you’d like. Excellent projection for hitting ability. Slowly harnessing approach. Uses entire field well and trusts hands/strength to charge the ball, refraining from over swinging. Very gifted hitter with plus potential after maturing and gaining more experience. Still raw. Grade – 30/60
Power: Good bat speed and natural strength. Swing is conducive to line drives now but could add loft. Should add more strength as well. Already drives the ball well to all fields and that should continue to improve. Potential for plus raw power down the line. Will need hitting approach to catch up to other skills for raw to be fully realized. Second plus offensive tool down the road. Grade (raw power) – 40/60
Arm: Plenty for 3B. Gets rid of the ball quickly and maintains arm strength when off balance. Very good thrower with plenty of velocity, good carry and strong accuracy. Grade – 60/60
Fielding: Defense comes easy for him. Excellent first-step at 3B. Moves well to both sides with plus range for the position. Excellent hands that are very soft. Cradles the ball and regularly fields it cleanly. Good transfers to throwing hand and advanced footwork for his age. Needs to improve some plays deep at 3B but has tools for it to work. Easy plus defensive projection. Grade – 50/60
Speed: Only tool that comes up short. Below-average home to first times and the frame/body type suggest he could slow down a tick as he matures physically. Grade – 40/30
Summation: Excellent makeup. High-energy guy that loves the game and loves to play. Joy to watch. Tooled up. Bat and glove project extremely well. Has hit and power projection at plus levels with potential for .280/20+ HR at peak. Really nice offensive player. Glove work is outstanding for age and still has room to improve. No trouble projecting him to stick at 3B w/ good reactions, good hands and a plus arm. Lack of speed won’t impact defense. Very nice overall player. Highly underrated in larger circles. Still quite raw and needs time to develop. Above-average regular with some modicum of All-Star potential. 6 player.
Relative Risk: High. Still very young and very raw with a lot that could go wrong.
Future: Still sufficiently challenged in Low-A this year and should finish the year with Lakewood. A move to Clearwater (High-A) in 2013 would be a good one and he could be in Double-A late in the season or at least in 2014 when he will still only be 21-years old. Remains a long way from the big leagues and a reasonable ETA is a ways off in 2015.