Maikel Franco #16 on Baseball America top SAL Prospects List

Lakewood 3B Maikel Franco was ranked the 16th best prospect in the South Atlantic League by Baseball America after a very good season in which he hit .280 with 14 HR and 84 RBI’s.  Franco was the third highest ranked 3B on the list behind Trevor Story (Rockies) and Gavin Cherini (Red Sox). The Phils sit with two 3B in their system who are legitimate prospects at this stage (Asche and Franco) but will likely have to fill the position in the short term by signing a free agent to what is hopefully just a one-two year deal. (Youkelis, Keppinger)

51 thoughts on “Maikel Franco #16 on Baseball America top SAL Prospects List

  1. The write-up on Franco was positive: respecting his second half “got it” crediting him for his power and his third-basing with soft hands and a strong arm. Critical only about his too much emphasis on powering HRs, believing that less emphasis there and more on contact would be more productive. He is lacking in foot speed, though not a base clogger.

    The far and high walls in the Florida State Lg will prove a challenge, but Lkwd is not a HR park either. To me he looks like a # 4 or #5 hitter in a future lineup. My estimate for delivery: latter ’15 or early ’16. Look for further adjustments along the way.

    Now, about Asche….

    Y’all know my thoughts on him.

    1. I know how you feel about Asche but you have to agree here: Franco= Higher ceiling Asche= Higher floor

      1. Age progression wise it may be a good comp. However I think tools wise Asche doesn’t stack up, Seager is a very good defensive player (all reports on Asche says there may be some problems there), his power is higher (I think Asche is a 15HR at most guy), his hit tool was as good or better than Asche’s in the minors, and Seager is a much better runner.

        1. I agree that Asche is probably 50 defensively on the scouting scale but where I don’t agree with you is his power projection. I see more then 15 HR’s per 600 AB. I see 20-25. And that dramatically changes his outlook. From “average 3b” to “above average”. Now, I don’t think he profiles as an All-Star by any means, even at say 23 HR’s. Franco meanwhile really does have the upside of a Multi year all star with a WAR at his peak of 5ish.

    2. I think I’m stuck firmly between the Art D. and Larry camps when it comes to Cody Asche.

      On the one hand, I see his potential limitations. He doesn’t have outstanding power or truly exceptional raw physical tools and he can be a bit rough in the field – at least he was when I saw him play – it wasn’t always pretty.

      On the other hand, there a number of things about him that really are exceptional. He went from really struggling in a rookie league in 2011 (frankly, he completely bombed), to ending the year in 2012 as a nearly dominant player four levels above rookie ball. That’s amazing. The only Phillies player I can recall who rocketed through the system as quickly at any point in time was Cole Hamels and he turned out okay, don’t you think? I also like all of the little things about Asche. He is fast, he appears to be mentally tough and is a tireless worker. Folks who work at Reading talked about how he got to the park hours before any of the other players and worked and worked to improve his game. He also has a nice, short swing. Finally, because he is going through the system so quickly, it is hard to really get a sense of how well he would perform over the course of, say, a year, so you could project him at high levels.

      On the whole, however, I’d say I’m a little more in the Art camp than the Larry camp. Sometimes you watch a player and you just see something special. I think Asche has a little of that going on. Does he have Franco’s ceiling? No, probably not, but he’s a different type of player than Franco. It’s a little like comparing a younger Chase Utley to a younger Adrian Beltre. One has more physical talent, but the other has a knack for doing all of the little things right and maximizing his talent and value in an exceptional way, but, surely, you’d like to have both of them.

      1. I don’t know; that sounds a lot like you DO agree with me. :) Lost in all the debates is the fact that, by any reaonable standard, I happen to be quite optimistic about Asche. I think he has a good chance to be a solid major league regular, and could be ready as soon as 2014.

        Seperating me from Art and a couple others are only two issues. One is the question of whether he is realistically a possibility for the major league job next spring.I won’t repeat my arguments on that, which no one has even attempted to answer, except to say that my confidence level on that point is extremely high and the counter arguments, such as they are, extraordinarily weak. A prospect of his profile getting a makor league job in the spring with his limited AA experience would essentially be unprecedented, and would risk disrupting his development.

        The other, more interesting question – interesting because there is more legitimate room for argument, I could be wrong on this – is his ceiling. I think he has a ceiling of an average major league regular, and a quite good chance of reaching that peak, because of make-up and proximity, which is high praise. Some people think he could be above average, and some people think he could be a star. I think both are unlikely.

        Catch, IF you are one of the guys thinking he has a good chance of being more than an average regular (again, very valuable and high praise), what are you basing that on? I don’t see him with the tools for more. People have said he has no weaknesses, which is not quite true but I can see thier point – with reasonable further development, he could be average pretty much accross the board. But the other side of the coin is that he also seems to lack plus tools. Anon above projects 20-25 HR; I just don’t see that as likely. His plate discipline is a bit below average, granted that often improves as a player deverops. Ditto his defense. But does anyone see him as being above average in either category? Realistically no. And he doesn’t have plus speed.

        That leaves, I guess, batting average, and obviously it is there in part that Art and others are hanging their hats. But Catch, I know that YOU understand sample size and the fact that minor league batting averages are often deceptive, and I know that YOU know that he doesn’t profile as a .300 hitter at the major league level with his contact rate and other skills.

        I mean, yes, he likely has a good make-up (though hard for outsiders like us to know that for sure). But that’s why we can project him as highly as people like myself do. It doesn’t turn a guy with his tools into a star. At least, very rarely. People want to make the Utley comparions, and I undertstand why they would do that, but (a) their minor league performance isn’t really comperable, (b) their tools aren’t really comperable, and (c) Utley is sui generis, or, at least, a once in a generation player, not a proper basic of comparision.

        1. The one minor quibble I would have with this is that if you feel that all of a players tools are average, then the whole taken together is an above average player. “Average” major league baseball players have noticeable flaws. Not making the case for Asche either way. But, if you believe he “could be average across the board” with his tools (5 hit, 5 power, 5 baserunning, 5 defense, 5 arm) then by definition he is an above average player.

          1. Well first point, the fact that most average players have a noticeable flaw doesn’t prove your point; most average players are also above average in one facet of the game.

            Beyond that, I think we may be in danger of getting into a semantic jungle (average relative to what population?) which would go nowhere. To bring this to a more concrete level, if Asche becomes this player: .270/.325/.415 with average defense and average base running skills, he will be (roughly) a major league average regular third baseman. And I think that’s likely his ceiling, albeit one he has a good chance to reach. (Those numbers would make him a slightly above average hitter compared to all major league players, but roughly average if you take out the pitchers.)

            1. And the point is that that would be a heck of a player. Projecting that kind of production from a third baseman is optimistic. Average cost controlled players, especially pre-arb, are quite valuable.

            2. That’s more or less my point. If Asche were to put up average offensive numbers with average defense and average base running (in relation to major league third baseman) he would be considered above average within the game.

              This may be a gross generalization on my part (as I have admittedly not studied the stats closely) but your “average” hitters are not typically average across the board. They are either slow and/or bad fielders. Your good fielders aren’t good hitters. At least not among the players that I would consider “average” (let’s say +/- 10% of the mean). The outliers/elite players excel in one or two areas. The above average players (right side of the bell curve but not elite) would be the ones that don’t excel in any area, but don’t suck in any other. Or maybe they do excel in one area but their sucktitude in another area counter-balances that.

              My point is this…show me a 3B with the league average batting line that you showed above with average base running skills and average defense, and I’ll show you a player with a WAR (or whatever stat you prefer that attempts to take all of these things into account) that would put said player above the mid-way point among third basemen.

        2. This is a very good and fair post.

          To cut to the chase (no pun intended), I think he may very well have the ability to develop into an above-average major leaguer. My main point is that: (a) this guy has jumped an extraordinary number of levels in a short period of time; (b) he continued to improve (both in terms of power numbers and plate discipline) as he was promoted; (c) the promotions have been so quick and significant that we really can’t say we’ve seen him settle in at any levell and show the full extent of show his upside/abilities; (d) aside from fielding (that will always be a concern with Asche as far as I can tell), later in the year, he started to come on in the areas where he appeared to be most lacking as a hitter – power and plate discipline, which bodes well for his future development; and (e) based on reports, he has an exceptional work ethic and make-up. So, yeah, I think there’s certianly more than a remote possibility that he develops into an above-average major league regular. If you forced me to guess, I’d put the odds of his ultimate outcome as follows: (a) Perennial All-Star – 5%; (b) excellent regular/occasional All-Star – 10%; (c) above-average regular – 20%; (d) average regular – 40%; (e) below average regular/platoon type player – 15%; (f) AAAA player – 10%. Larry, our assessments are probably fairly close – I think I am just nudging the needle a bit farther up the “above-average regular” spectrum than you are.

          Still, I am not fully in the Art camp. I am very much skeptical of Asche’s hitting performance of the last few months because I just don’t put a lot of faith in hitting statistics at Reading. More than anything, I want to see Asche play on TV at LHV. After years and years of watching baseball, my eyes are generally much better trained to assess a prospect that I see on TV (particularly pitchers, but hitters too) rather than in person, especially those players such as Asche who physical skills are not overwhelming.

          1. The thing I think we all overlook as that Asche could have been sitting in Lakewood for half the year. He was double bumped to CWater and then moved to Reading mid season. Asche could be a legit 320 hitter type and they’re very hard to find. Power wise, I think the 20 – 25 homer projections above are a bit high but I never thought Utley would become a 30 homer guy either. A 320 guy with 15 – 20 home run power in the majors may be a notch below an all star but its certainly a winning type player. The Utley vs Beltre comparison is a good one to compare the styles of Asche and Franco. I agree with the theory that Franco profiles as a #5 hitter while Asche could be a #2 or #3 guy. Let’s hope these guys continue to improve because we’ll certainly need them soon to replace an aging core in Philly.

            1. The perils of straight ahead batting average projections from inadequate minor league data. He has no chance – none – to be a legit .320 hitter. He is unlikely to be a “legit” .300 hitter, though it is barely possible if everything, and I mean everything, breaks right for him.

              If you look at “legitimate” .320 hitters, they share, generally, 3 of the following 4 characteristics:

              (1) Good to excellent contact rate (Asche is only average in this regard)
              (2) Very fast (hence IF hits) (Asche is average at best)
              (3) Lots of HR (Asche is average at best)
              (3) Extreme line drive hitter (here Asche MIGHT fit the bill)

              There’s a few guys with only 2 of those, though they tend to really excel in those two. Nobody but nobody hits .320 just because they hit a lot of line drives with average speed, power and contact rate.

              That’s one out of four, and that does not make a .300 hitter, let alone a .320 hitter. A comp for batting average – an optimistic comp – not overall, but batting average – would be Kevin Youkilis, line drive hitter, not particularly fast, some mid range HR power, decent but not great contact rate – with a lifetime BA of .283. I see Asche a little lower than that, but that’s the optimistic comp. (and FWIW, Youk was a heck of a player, albeit with better plate discipline than Asche will likely every have).

              Another way to look at it is that, to hit .320 with a 3.3%HR rate and 18% K rate (both optimistic assumptions) he would need to BABIP .364. That’s the rarified air of a Suzuki, who combined a high line drive rate with an insane number of IF hits because of his speed.

              He could develop more power or plate discipline than I think he will, and thus become better than “just” an average regular third baseman, but he’s not going to be a .320 hitter.

            2. Thank you for this break down Larry. I read where you and others have said a particular player doesn’t project to be a .300 hitter. Now I have a better understanding of how the stats relate to that.

  2. I have to say these BA league rankings will influence my own personal Phillies Top 30. I had Franco ahead of Roman Quinn before these came out, but I can’t see how Quinn could be ranked any lower than #4 (and as high as #2) in the Phillies top 30, at this point. Also, Tocci should be firmly in the top 10.

  3. Considering Story is a number one round pick and Garin Cecchini is a bit older, I think Franco did well for third base competition.

  4. I think he is fighting for the #2 position prospect ranking with Joseph right now (behind Quinn who I like more an more). I am really bullish on Franco and I think he has a chance to be a guy who makes a few All-Star teams, plays good defense, and provides good RH power towards the middle of a line up. The SAL was pretty good this year and I think scouts like Franco’s upside but he still has a lot to work on but at 20 years old he has time. A great find by the scouting department.

    1. I’d trade him for Upton given the fact he’s a young MVP caliber player… that said, I’d think he’s about as untouchable as they get in our system though if Ruben’s smart.

  5. No way either Cody or Franco get dealt. With the third basemen landscape and how hard it is to devolp them. I can see Valle and pitcher say Colvin and a low end prospect to get traded. That package might get u something. Not a lot but a pc. I would look at Chris young.

        1. For a younger and more talented player. Also, that package doesn’t get us Justin Upton. Brown, Worley, Aumont, and one of May/Morgan/Martin, MAYBE.

    1. I’m not sure how much value Colvin has at this point. If anything, he’s the type of player you’d want to keep if you think he’s currently undervalued. Personally, I think Justin Upton’s going to cost in the neighborhood of Biddle, Brown, and May, and perhaps more – that’s essentially your entire advanced-level farm system. Upton’s value isn’t where it was a couple of years ago, but he’s under contract for three more years, is just entering his prime, and has (and previously demonstrated) 5-7 WAR ability. For a player like that, Amaro’s going to have to give 3-4 advanced prospects.

  6. Justin Upton is garbage, not as much as his brother B.J. perhaps, but cut from the same cloth.

    The Phillies will solve their outfield problem by signing Josh Hamilton.

    If the Phillies trade away a lot of their farm it will be for Chase Headley or David Wright. Trading away talent for an outfielder when Josh Hamilton is available for nothing more than cash would be a crime.

    Don’t understand the delusional value attached to Franco. You don’t even know if that’s his real name. He might have been born as Richard Perez and be as old as Kelly Dugan.

    Hamilton and a 3B bat as defined above are the two things that must happen this winter for the Phillies to get back their Evil Empire 3.0 status.

    1. Better read the Dallas and Ft Worth papers and Texans’ comments….’let Hamilton walk ‘seems to be the overriding theme.

      1. I know I know, small sample size. But i did not like watching Hamilton versus a lefty. Last thing we need is another left handed black hole vs lefty pitching

  7. Franco ceiling is as high as any other 20 yr old third base prospect. Lets wait and see. 3rd basemen are becoming a lost position.

  8. Phils will do best maintaining competition Asche-Franco and Joseph-Valle, etc. I think a problem with Domonic Brown is that he was anointed the outstanding outfield prospect. N0w with Ruf, it will be interesting to see if Brown will compete harder for playing time and a spot in the order. The old model of signing free agents and installing them is not working. “No’ to Hamilton.

  9. Funny that anyone here could write that the Phillies signing big bats as free agents does not work.

    The Phillies have NEVER in their history signed a bat like Josh Hamilton.

    The Yankees have and Red Sox did.

    It worked for them

    Babe Ruth

    Reggie Jackson.

    Manny Ramirez.

    1. Define ‘big bat’? Jim Thome now has 600 HRs and had approx. 375 when the Phillies signed him a few years back.

    1. It says a lot for Adam Morgan. Morgan is a very serious prospect. At worst he probably becomes a #4 in the big leagues, but he has a chance to become a top of the rotation pitcher.

        1. Two is top “half” of the rotation, but yes I agree, morgan’s ceiling is 2/3 and that’s a ton to be excited about given his rise from no where.

  10. I guess the Eastern League will get 4 Reading Phillies. My guess: Joseph, Asche and May. Hernandez and Martin might sneak in though.

    1. I thought it was revealed already who made it? I know the total count is available. We have 9 in total and 5 have been revealed. Rumor has it Cloyd made the IL. That leaves 3 for the EL. I remember hearing Asche and Joseph but can’t remember the 3rd.

  11. I like Franco and I like Asche to both be steady MLB players at some point down the road. If I were the FO I would allow them to continue to develop at their own pace Franco especially being the younger player. I really want to see him put a full season together and show a more consistent hit tool throughout.

    This would be a year I exercise patience and allow the market to play itself out. This team has more holes than can be fixed in FA.

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