BP Prospect Profile on Maikel Franco

For those of you who have access to BP’s pay content go to the site and read the full article at http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18646#commentMessage as well as ask questions in the comments.

For those that don’t it is a large scouting report written by Hudson Belinsky who does a ton of scouting in the Northeast.  The premise of the article being that he often uses Lakewood as a venue to see the prospects in the SAL and can get caught up really watching a Phillies’ prospect, in 2011 it was Domingo Santana and in 2012 it was Maikel Franco.

Some notes and quotes:

– Over the course of the season Franco has really started to develop more patience that was manifesting more in swinging at the right pitches rather than drawing walks

– Hudson was impressed by the mental make up of a 19 year old overcoming the early season that Franco had and continue to improve over the course of the year

– His overall impression “Overall, Franco is far from a perfect prospect. He could become an outstanding offensive player, launching 25-30 bombs per season while batting .285 with modest on-base skills. If his body allows him to stick at third base, he could become an above-average defender there.”

– There is a small unknown at Franco’s age whether he will continue to stick at 3B since there is a chance that he just outgrows the position.  The next progression would be to LF (where his lack of speed would not help) and then to 1B but for now he has the potential to be a good thirdbaseman.

In the slowness of the offseason I thought this might help bring some more to the discussion of the Phillies’ system.

About Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has previously appeared on Phuture Phillies and The Good Phight. You can read his work at Phillies Minor Thoughts

44 thoughts on “BP Prospect Profile on Maikel Franco

  1. Did Ryan Zimmerman outgrow third base? I don’t see the problem with being a big third baseman as long as you’re adequate in the field and can add value with your bat. I’d take Miguel Cabrera at third and I’m pretty sure he’s huge and his defense is below par. How about Sandoval? How much is it likely Franco will grow? Godzilla-sized?

    I think this is a lazy way to hedge an evaluation. Yeah, the guy could become a sumo wrestler and have to become the backstop or centerfield batter’s eye. But there’s is no likely problem with simply being a big third baseman.

    1. The fear is that he becomes Cabrera at 3B which is a negative win or two on defense. Franco is already slow footed and 19 years old and to not mention the defensive hedge would be a disservice to readers to not mention the possibilities.

      1. Yeah, that would really suck if he won a triple crown (time to laugh out loud, Matt – I am joking).

    2. I agree that the “too big” for third base is over stated. Look at the upper echelon of third base and they are all have 20-60 lbs on Franco. I’m talking about Headley, Wright, Ramirez, Zimmerman, Cabrera, Alvarez, and the biggest (and shortest) of them all Sandoval. None (even Cabrera) had a fangraphs dWAR worse than -0.3 (admittedly usually Ramirez is closer to -1 to -2). I will take that any day with .285/30 HR.

      1. I think it is more that he is slow and not too athletic. If he gets bigger then maintaining the quickness to play 3B is an issue. Franco stole his first 3 bases in the minors this year. I would expect a little more from someone who could stay at 3B. As of now I am not concerned as all reports on his defense have been promising. But add 20 pounds and it might be a different story.

  2. I’m excited about him as anyone else, but he’s 19. At best, he’s four years away from the Show.

    1. I think Franco is guy who can accelerate the next two years and be in majors sooner. Based on Phillies need of having 3B with some pop the phillies might make an exception to their typical snail pace with prospects and bring him along little faster especially if Ashe power numbers don’t develop.

      1. Asche has moved very fast and done well in doing so, but he is a college guy. He is at least a solid stop-gap until Franco is ready, possibly better than Franco will become. In any case, with Asche knocking on the major league door, there is no reason to rush Franco’s development. I think he plays at CLW in 2013.

        1. Zimmerman’s a college guy. Until Asche levels off, I think it is ridiculous to label him a stop gap. What a lot of these forecasters are not positioned to know is how determined a prospect is since they haven’t come up with a formula yet to measure heart. Ask any of the forecasters to project a career for a Pete Rose type of guy and they can’t do it, for good reason. Basketball has gym rats. By every account, Asche is a ballpark fixture, like the shower.

          1. I didn’t label him a stop-gap. I said he was AT LEAST as stop-gap and possibly better than Franco. I fail to see how you can take offense at that.

            1. And to put this comment into perspective Allentown was like the only person before the season that had Asche down as a sleeper pick. At least I’m pretty sure it was him when I looked at that post a week or so ago.

          2. Heart is irrelevant when the tools aren’t there. You can’t build past a certain level, work ethnic and make up can make tools play up but they cannot create them. I just did the prospect profile on Asche which you can rip apart all you want but he doesn’t have star level tools. His biggest asset is that everything is around average (hit tool is above average and the speed is a grade below average). Asche’s ceiling is first division starter (Top 15 in the league) and his likely outcome is second division or bench player, that is a stop gap player, someone you are not unhappy starting but you are looking to upgrade when you have the opportunity.

            1. I see a possible 320 hitter with 15 homers and 15 steals and a average glove. It may not be an all star but its definitely enough to win with.

            2. High draft choice is relative here. Fourth round I would say there is an expectation of major league player but you are rarely going to get a star player (at least from college) outside of the first round or two (unless they are someone who fell due to injury).

            3. Murray, I responded at length to your last post on this, and you didn’t reply, which is of course fine. But I am curious – even if you don’t want to get in a back and forth with me, just why do you think that .320 is possible? You said yourself in that prior post, correctly, that “legit” .320 hitters int he majors are quite rare – what is it about Asche that makes you think he might that rare talent? Surely it’s not just the fact that he hit about that in a season at A+ and AA? The number of players who have done that in a single minor league season outnumbers the number of players who are consistent .320 hitters in the majors by more than 100 to one.

              Asche does have an above average hit tool. That translates, unless he can drastically improve his contact rate, to a major league batting average in the .280 to .290 range as a ceiling.

            4. Having Ache with a .280/.290 BA ceiling —.265/275 floor—would be ideal IMO. I also would take 17/19 HR power.

            5. Well sure. It seems easy for some people to forget that my skepticism about some of the wilder expectations fot Asche doesn’t mean that I don’t favor him as a prospect; I like him as a prospect. I think he can certainly be more than a stop gap. Of course Franco’s ceiling is higher than his, possibly leaving the club with a good kind of dilemma a couple of years down the road.

            6. Sorry, I didn’t see your question. What I like about Asche is his approach and his swing. I think he’ll improve more next year since this was only his first full season. He started out in spring training hitting line drives all over the place even though he was double jumped. When I look at his AA stats, I separate them in my mind to early and late as he started very slowly obviously. My eyes tell me that this guy can hit at any level, with the proper training and time. I don’t see a AA 300 hitter who will fall off to 280 in the majors, I see a 350 hitter that could fall off to 320. Even in the AFL, he already has three doubles. he just has that kind of swing. Rose colored glasses? Perhaps, time will tell. I like Gillies also if he can stay on the field, which is his bigest question to me. But what do I know, I was convinced that Walding, who also has a sweet swing, would have a great first year.

            7. Murray,

              You’re usually a sensible guy but I think you’re off on this. He DOES have a nice swing, but it’s type kind of swing that makes him a decent line drive hitter, which, as I set forth in some prior posts, does not, by itself, a .300 hitter make, let alone a .320 hitter. I mean, LOTs of major leaguers have sweet line drive swings, and aren’t .320 hitters.

              Given that he’s not all of the sudden going to develop plus speed (infield hits, which can sometimes add as much as 30 points to BA compared to an average player, though that’s an extreme (Suzuki) case), the key to Asche being a .300 plus hitter would be to significantly improve his contact rate. And it seems to me that (a) that’s not really a product of the swing – that is, a good swing is probably a necessary but not a sufficient condition for being a good contact hitter; (b) he shows no significant progress in his contact rate, and (c) contact rate is an area where it is rare to see dramatic progress as a prospect develops.

              That last point is, I think, an interesting one, perhaps deserving of further discussion at some point. IMO, if one considers prospect development (as a hitter) from a statistical perspective (I realize that’s not the only way to evaluate a prospect) what we like to see is (a) ability to maintain the same statistical performance against more advanced pitching, and (b) development of plate discipline, which IMO CAN be learned to a much greater extent than contact ability, and (c) increased power, which is a function in large part of physical maturation.

          3. Ryan Zimmerman drafted a wee bit higher than Asche. I like Asche, however, and think he can be our starting 3B in 2014 or even toward the end of 2013.

          4. ” Until Asche levels off”
            +1 For now it is like standing in front of a runaway train saying it is going to stop.

    2. At best he’s 4 years away? He’s a long way from the show but I think thats a tad conservative from a ‘best case’ perspective.

      1. His real best case scenario is probably early 2014 – that’s assuming he turns into something a approaching a superstar, which is possible, but highly unlikely. The more likely “best case” scenario for him is a September, 2014 call-up, which is still unlikely. If you forced me to bet, I think he would be called up sometime in 2015, assuming he is still with the Phillies which, with Ruben Amaro at the helm, is an aggressive assumption in and of itself.

        1. I think this entire thread is the type of speculation we should be steering away from. Trying to get an idea of a player’s ceiling is one thing, but trying to guess how an organization of strangers is going to handle the development of a player whose ceiling we can’t even agree on makes fools of us all.

          I think many commenters on this site have fallen into the trap of using call-ups as shorthand for expressing how they feel about a players skill, but unless a player has a shot at making the bigs now there is no reasonable way to guess their future progression.

          1. To clarify: I don’t mean to accuse anyone specifically or personally of making of a fool of anyone. Just to say that this line of speculation is ill advised.

            1. You call it ‘speculation’, I call it hot-stoving. Thats what makes this sport special for the past 125 plus years. Its men daydreaming like kids again..

            2. Exactly, we’re all just having fun. Quitting your job of 20 years to start an alternative rock band is ill-advised. Speculating on when a prospect might be called-up is not ill-advised, it’s just good old fashioned fun while nobody is playing baseball. Honestly, I haven’t a clue when Franco will be called up, but it’s fun to talk about it.

            3. well, and doing it on a hot stove prospect blog is less risky (and ill-advised) than quiiting your job….

            4. Everything about prospects is speculative, that’s what makes 80% of this so much fun. And larrym’s arrogant, black and white world’s 20% so obnoxious.

        2. Can’t see Franco possibly being in the majors in early 2014, that is just not going to happen. He showed a lot of potential in low-A in 2012, but didn’t really perform well until the second half of the season. He is not going to vault through the rest of the minors in little more than one season.

  3. There is a small unknown at Franco’s age

    Age is indeed a question with Franco as it is with all Dominicans. Baseball America has proven that it is foolish not to add two years to every Dominicans age. Once you do that you’re comparing Franco with Kelly Dugan, and I don’t see anyone talking about Dugan as a prospect.

    1. The thing is with Franco this isn’t some 18 year old trying to be 16, he was signed late as a 17 year old and to just add years to every Dominican player is stereotyping on a problem that is less widespread than you think. If anything Franco has a tendency to look younger than he is , the question is about how he will age from 19 to 23 and if you look at most people there are still significant physical changes occurring.

      1. I have not seen any change in the Dominican problem. It persists just as it did years before the big expose by BA. The entire industry on that island is horrifically corrupt. It’s like buying prospects out of a maximum security prison.

    2. That’s not what the writer meant. Read the line. He didn’t say there was an unknown ‘about’ Franco’s age. He said there was an unknown ‘at’ his age. Meaning it’s hard to project what he will be as an athlete, because he is so young.

      1. That’s how I read it. While always weary about age with Dominicans In Franco’s case and have seen him in person I believe his age unlike Domingo Santana.

        1. Yes Oldtimer, red-flags went up all over the Houston organization when Dom Santana asked his minor league manager when will he be eligible to apply for early social security!

      2. I know that’s not what the writer meant.

        That was my point.

        And it remains my point of view. I have not seen any evidence that shows that there are any Dominicans who do not subtract years from their age. It is routine fraud. Usually it is two years. Much rarer is one year or three years.

        1. Oh, I get it now. You were purposely twisting what the writer said to promote your own prejudice. Got it.

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