J.P. Crawford and Maikel Franco selected for Futures Game

A pair of Phillies’ prospects are on their way to the 2014 All-Star Futures Game at Target Field in Minnesota.

J.P. Crawford and Maikel Franco have both been selected to participate in the contest, which will take place on Sunday, July 13th as part of the All Star festivities.

Crawford is a no-brainer, as he has hit .286/.388/.391 so far this season. He has struggled in his first 23 at-bats in Clearwater, hitting just .190. That said, it would have been impossible to keep him off the roster. He will suit up for the U.S. team.

Franco’s selection is a bit more of a surprise, considering he has hit just .207/.265/.323 so far. He began the season slowly, then had that nice hot streak for 20 games, where he hit .304 with three homers and 11 RBIs. He has been very quiet for about a month now, and his struggles have been well-documented. He will play for the World roster.

This is Crawford’s first time at the Futures Game, and Franco’s second trip to the game.

34 thoughts on “J.P. Crawford and Maikel Franco selected for Futures Game

  1. With Franco’s 1/2 season @ LV AAA, he has made our own list: expectations lowered–considerably…making myself and some others here thankful that we have Asche at 3rd base now in Philly. Asche has, as many of us have predicted, overcome his “traditional” slow starts (injury aside; his career is NOT spotted with injuries) to resuming his better than good hitting (power to come) and to be moved UP in the lineup to #6, ahead of Brown.

    Of course, I, in particular recall a favored poster here who not long ago…in comparing Franco and Asche, saying Franco had the best skills for MLB and Asche was going to be an “also-ran.”

    He knows who he is. We may even get a responsive rationalization soon. (Yeah, he’s only 21?)

    1. To be fair, I think many people will still agree Franco has the better skills (read: tools). He’s got better power, better defense (based on what I’ve seen of both at least, and heard about Franco), better hand-eye coordination. Maybe he puts it all together, maybe he doesn’t. But he has the better skills.

      That being said, I don’t remember anyone saying Asche would be an “also-ran.” I recall people calling him a bench piece (with limited utility). And, just for the record, that could still be his destination. He’s on a streak now and, while I hope it continues, that could end at any time and theoretically could never happen again.

      1. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting. You can still “believe” but you still can see what Franco is SHOWING us:
        A poor contact rate, strongly elevated strikeouts and a BA barely over the Mendoza line. So…what’s to like here?

        This is Show and Tell time. The figures speak for themselves. What is the name for somebody staring at the FACTS in front of him, and yet still maintain that facts mean nothing? Like Republicans on Climate Change?

        1. Franco is only 21 playing a premium position at AAA. He’s fine. He’s only a .260 hitter in the majors, but with 30HR potential I’ll take that any day of the week. Still hitting too many ground balls which was exactly the case last season in spite of his breakout at Reading. Still, Franco remains a big name prospect even if he finishes the year at .220. If he does likewise next year then you can become worried

        2. So what you’re telling me is that you stopped developing completely (physically, mentally, and emotionally) by the age of 21? Actually, I guess that could explain some things. In addition, you’re also saying that 310 PA is enough to definitively determine a player’s abilities.

          Chase Utley’s slash at 22 in A+ (a full 2 levels below Franco): .257/.324/.422
          Albert Pujols’ slash at 20 in AAA (15 PA): .214/.267/.286
          Carlos Santana’s slash after 288 PA this year (28 years old, so in his prime by the way): .202/.354/.382 (.333/.441/.632 with 5 HR in June, though)
          Giancarlo Stanton at 19 in AA: .231/.311/.455

          What should you take away from this? Young players are capable of improving, good hitters can struggle, and small sample sizes show a lot of statistical noise.

          Does that mean Franco will put it all together? Not necessarily. But writing a player off completely for struggling (ESPECIALLY a young player getting his first taste of more advanced competition) is foolish.

          Oh, and just for fun:

          In 2010 (at 24), Chris Davis slashed .192/.279/.292. The next year he hit .266/.305/.402 between Texas and Baltimore. Then in 2012 he hit .270/.326/.501 with 33 HR. And, of course, last year he hit .286/.370/..634 with his absurd 53 HR. This year he’s been struggling again to a line of .219/.329/.438, but with 13 HR and a 112 OPS+. Would you have given up on him after 2010? Have you given up on him now?

          Statistical noise happens, but tools don’t just disappear. They can deteriorate, sure. Usually because of age or injury. Franco is young and healthy. He’s just struggling and trying to adjust to a new challenge. Maybe he won’t put it together, we’ll see. But pretending this is do or die for him is ridiculous.

          1. I like that rational.
            However ‘statistical noise’ to the analytically inclined can be a real nut to crack and headache.

            1. I wouldn’t say that “statistical noise” is the only or even primary issue with Franco. Not by any means. But – ironically – once again it is the analytical crowd who has a more accurate knowledge of the traditional (and correct) understanding of the development process.

    2. right-on. Asche is and will continue to be a solid 3B. Franco better learn to hit and play 1B. Ahoy I also gave myself a pre-emptive thumbs down from all the Franco defenders.

  2. Victor (Do you go by Vic?), I’m actually a bit surprised by the Crawford selection. Sure he’s “our” stud, but he was only recently promoted to Clearwater and has been great but not phenomenal to start his career. Don’t get me wrong; best position prospect I could recall in a long, long time. Certainly more hyped than Howard, Utley or Rollins at this stage in their respective careers, and I think perhaps for good reason.

    Franco might have been a matter of positional depth for the World team, and though I’m thrilled to see Crawford suiting up for the U.S., I hardly thought it was a no-brainer.

    Nice write-up though. Well done

  3. Not really on topic, but there’s not much more to be said here. Down in “related posts” is a link to when Law ranked our system 14th in the preseason. Do you think the emergence of some of our 5-15 guys can make up for the struggles of Franco and Biddle? If those two bounce back in the 2nd half, recent draftees show something positive and some of the younger guys continue to show progress, maybe it could move up a few spots. Any chance Sandberg, Quinn, Aaron Brown or anyone else crack the top 100? Nola has a good shot once he straightens out but what about the other guys- is there another top 100 prospect in the system? Sandberg would have to if he keeps it up- maybe he could even play in the futures game next year. A few guys are playing well but they have a long way to go. Here’s hoping for fresh faces representing the Phillies in the 2015 futures game!

    1. Sandberg, Quinn, and Nola are probably the most likely to crack the top 100 (I think Nola is virtually a lock). Quinn was well on his way before the injury, and if his defense is as good in CF as we all hope that’s even less he needs to do on offense to make it. Sandberg is the typical toolshed, so if the results are there the ceiling is sky-high and so his ranking is directly correlated to his performance.

      Mecias is another name to monitor. Longenhagen particularly likes him and has a write-up about him over on Crashburn (http://crashburnalley.com/2014/02/06/the-future-is-unwritten-yoel-mecias/). The short of it: projectable lefty, sees him developing into a plus fastball, has a change that already sits plus and flashes higher, and has feel for a slider and curve. If his pitches develop, that is a mid-rotation starter or more. That will get you into the top 100 when you get closer to the majors, and even before if you put up good stats. He’s off to a good start on that front.

      I think Pullin, Cozens, Sweeney, Grullon, and Tocci are on the outside looking in, but all have a decent chance of making the top 100 at some point if things break right. Grullon is probably the closest at the moment just because he’s so good defensively at C while still being so young. If he or Tocci show good bat skills to end the season, they’ll get some serious love. Pullin needs to keep up his current streak while showing better defense, Sweeney needs to use his tools, and Cozens needs to just flat out rake.

  4. I’m going to make the argument that Franco is, if anything MORE likely to be the long term answer at third base than he was at the start of the season. Reason: defense.

    Asche – I remain optimistic about Asche. Reasonably optimistic. Overall, he still isn’t even the solid regular that I projected. But his hitting has been a little better than I expected, and his defense a lot worse. SSS for both, but the “convert Asche to the OF” advocates may have been right after all. I admit that I was not a believer, and am still somewhat skeptical, but he MAY end up hitting enough to be a solid regular in LF. He’s certainly hitting a heck of a lot better than the incumbent. (I would note that my biggest argument against a move to the OF – never switch a player to a less demanding position if he can handle the more demanding position – has been undercut by the appearance that he CAN’T handle the more demanding defensive position.)

    Franco – of course people are being as overly reactive this season in a negative direction as they were being overly reactive in a positive direction last season. Heck, even my mild worries were, on reflection, overly reactive. he still projects to be the same kind of hitter he projected to be last season. Of course he’s not going to be the monster that some imagined last season, but he never was likely to be that. But what HAS changed is his defensive profile. Reports on his defense are quite encouraging.

    Comparing the two, Franco still projects to hit a little more, and he now projects to be a better defensive third baseman as well. And maybe Asche can make the move to the OF.

    1. Franco has NOT been valued for his defense…if so he’d still be playing at High A or so. The reason people here have been so excited about him has been his hitting for a pretty high average with power. If you were going to award 3rd base to him for his fielding, not hitting, then he might some day make it to the bigs…but not as a fine player.

      In fact, Franco’s lack of lateral movement will allow us to watch many base hits get past him canceling any benefit he might have with the glove. There is no such issue with Asche who was rushed to the Bigs because of great need at that position. Why? Because the Phils KNOW he is a hitter. And why Sandberg and the front office love him.

      In his quick advance to the MLB roster and lineup now at #6 left little time for Asche to become the excellent fielder he will shortly become with his work ethic.

      The Phils believe he will shortly become a team leader a la Utley. There is no mention of Franco’s ability to do the same.

      Franco so far this season is a complete bust. If you can’t see that maybe you need a prescription change for your glasses.

      1. I really don’t understand, I have seen this kid play about 10 times now, he isn’t a bad fielder, where do you get that? I just love how people also can say franco is better than asche, right now asche is a major league third basemen holding his own, and fracnco is a triple a two hundred and twenty hitter,

      2. Really not fair expecting Latin players to become the ‘leaders’ early on….language and culture differences are barriers for them and a clubhouse that is predominantly American poses the same obstacles.
        Now when they make it and are older veterans they can do that..Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Robby Cano etc

    2. I think in the past your best point about Asche is that he will be useful while he is cheap. The Phils are paying him the minimum to be slightly better than replacement value. We can all be happy about that.

      1. No, I’ve been a bit more optimistic than that. The perception around here is otherwise – partly my own fault, as I have been very (over) vocal in responding to those (well, one person really) who are convinced that he’s a future star (and that any opinion tot he contrary is somehow an insult).

        The fielding is a real disappointment so far. Can he improve? Sure. But he is really bad now – as evidenced by a variety of metrics (all of which agree on how bad he is), the apparent opinion of the organization (when he was benched earlier it was because of his fielding) and by the “eye test.” Wishing won’t make it otherwise.

        But the hitting has been a little better than expected. Walking more than one would have expected, and glimpses of a little more power. SSS of course (and yes, that applies to the fielding as well).

        People talk about his make up – which does seem to be a plus, and one reason I am optimistic, if at a lower level than Art. But make up isn’t magic – no guarantee he can make himself into a decent fielder even with all the effort int he world. But who knows – I would like to be wrong on that point..

        1. LarryM…maybe you should comp an Asche’s defense with a Utley 24-year old defense…there could be some striking similarities.

          1. No. Utley improved, but from a higher base.

            There’s another issue lurking here as well. It’s easy to make the “player A had a good make up and improved his defense; player B also has a good make up, so we can expect him to improve his defense as well.” Easy, seductive, but falacious. Especially when the comp is Ultey, who is sui generis (i.e., one of a kind).

            I would put it this way – it’s reasonable to expect some improvement. But how much? It’s posible he could improve to the point where he is an average thrid baseman defensively, but most players don’t show that much improvement. And he’ll never be the exceptional defender that Utley was and to a large extent still is.

            1. Of course different positions pose different questions.
              Utley’s arm will never be the equal of Asche’s, since Chase could not remain at third due to his arm strength.
              Then again, improving the glove can be done with diligence and determination.
              As for range ,laterally and going to the plate for the bunt/tapper, Asche’s remain to be seen how that will work out.

              BTW….went to the game last night and saw for the first time in Utley’s career he dropped two pop-up balls in one game. Though I think the first was slyly done intentionally to create something with the bases loaded.

  5. I think Quinn broke the top 100 already . . . Can’t remember what publication it was (maybe Baseball America?).

    Franco has had a tough first dew months but in now way does ache project as the better player. This will all play out eventually over the next few seasons.

    Also from seeing Pullin in person, he’s the classic hitter who does well against pitching that is weak and can’t hit any pitching that is average to above. He is ALWAYS out in front of everything, keeping his hands back is foreign to the kid. This is what he’s shown me every time I’ve seen him but I’m a pitching guy so what do I know?

    1. Don’t confuse your hopes on Franco with reality. I said before we’d hear some rationalization like “He’s only 21.” Prediction satisfied. That swing has no place in MLB.

      1. I would love for you to breakdown his swing for us. There’s a reason why he’s seen as the future at 3B by just about everyone who evaluates talent in the Phillies org. and outside evaluators as well.

        1. Although I’d like to see Franco “elevate” the ball more as a hitter (since he hits it so freaking hard), it sounds like the biggest thing he is struggling with is recognizing and fighting off breaking pitches. Let’s give him some time. He struggled two years ago in the first half for Lakewood before making adjustments and taking off in the second half. I think it’s just a matter of time before he adjusts and starts to hit.

          As for Asche, well, I’m one of his biggest fans and have been since 2012, and he’s done nothing but exceed expectations lately. The fielding is rough, but I think with tremendous effort, it’s likely to improve over time. The hope is that he can be close to average so you can keep him in the infield where the bat could be exceptional. As a hitter, I think many will be shocked as to how good he can be. I love this player – he’s probably the main reason I turn on the TV to watch the team these days (that and the young relievers – man, they are fun to watch).

    1. Did not realize this was an Asche vs Franco debate.
      Franco’s righthanded bat will be needed some day at CBP, but where he plays is up in the air.
      Amaro did suggest in February that Asche could be eventually moved to LF, and I assume Brown headed over to right, with Franco manning third.

  6. congrats to Crawford and Franco on making the team.let them represent the Phillies organization . I think Hiciano can be in the phillies top 20 at the end of the season.I also think the phillies are OK at 3rd base. Cody Ashe at the show ,Franco about a yr away and J Herandez , T Willams, Zach Green at the lower levels.

    1. Hiciano and pullin are my favorite blueclaws! I can see them both making the major leagues in 2-3 years

  7. Since we have been comparing Asche and Franco as ballplayers, we should also think about on-field play including base running.
    Franco is a sluggard on the bases. No infield balls ever could result in Franco’s beating out a hit. There’s also the issue of his going from 1st to third on a following hitter’s single to right field. OUT AT THIRD!!
    Can Franco steal a base? Yes, if the catcher gets the ball caught in his underwear!

    Asche is a ballplayer. He could and has stolen some bases through his minor lg career, but I don’t see him as a base-stealer relied upon; yet his getting some beat out infield grounders is likely and there is no problem getting from 1st to third on a single to RF.
    Asche is a ballplayer. Franco is a one trick pony whose main skill (hitting,power) is quickly fading when he’s been exposed to high minor lg pitching where people prep for the majors.

    We should also take heed of Franco’s winter ball play prior to this ’14 season. He struggled and had a horrible winter season. That was something he followed up on in his present time at LV which continues in the same deplorable manner.

    Though I too would love to see a righty power hitter to add to the Phils woeful lefty-oriented lineup, Franco is–sorry to say–not that guy. Can we hope for a miracle??–him suddenly start hitting for average, OBA, and HR power? We can hope. So let’s watch him for the remainder of this season…and pray for recovery. At the same time let’s watch Asche become a Philly favorite and develop into that All-Star 3rd baseman in about 3 years as I had predicted more than a year ago.

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