One player who has been on the forefront of everyone's radar over the last month is Reading Fightins third baseman Maikel Franco. Franco was named the Phillies minor league hitter of the month for June and was selected to the MLB All-Star Future's Game at Citi Field on Sunday.
ESPN's Keith Law scouted Franco at Reading last weekend and seemed to take pleasure throwing some cold water on Phillies fans who are excited about Franco's potential. He had a rather scathing scouting report for Franco,
Franco is a right-handed hitter who gets his hands very high and deep at the plate, nearly locking his right elbow right before he brings his hands forward, and his above-average bat speed can only go so far in getting the bat head to the zone in time. He's very strong and when he gets his hips started early enough he's got 65 or 70 raw power (on the 20-80 scouting scale), although the timing of his hip rotation varies from pitch to pitch.
His approach, however, is a disaster right now -- not only does he struggle to recognize off-speed stuff, especially changeups, but he's only interested in pitches he can crush, making no adjustments to where the pitch is located or to its type. If you signal that you're just trying to murder fastballs, you're not going to see many fastballs in the zone. That approach shows up in his lack of patience, with just one walk in Reading, on June 23, but it will show up soon enough in his batting average, as well.
At third, he's a below-average defender, with heavy feet and slow reactions to go with a plus arm, better than he was when he first came into the system but unlikely to ever be a neutral (average) defender at that position. He's a below-average runner who didn't run out any ground balls on Saturday night
Dugan's tools are pretty average across the board -- he's a 45-50 runner with a 55 arm and might be a 55 glove in right -- but he's got a good feel to hit thanks to fast wrists that allow him to accelerate his bat very quickly. A left-handed hitter, Dugan has no stride, just raising and lowering his front leg, and crouches more than you'd like to see, but with good hip rotation and solid results so far I wouldn't argue for reducing any of the noise in his swing until it becomes a problem.
The lack of tools is a little bit of a concern, but his plan at the plate is better than Franco's and he's a good enough athlete to stay in right and perhaps end up above average there, making him a potential everyday guy in a system that could use a few more of them.
Franco's .400 batting average in Reading shows that he must be able to make SOME sort of adjustment at the plate. It also strikes me as odd that Law can be so critical of a guy that homered in the game he was scouting.
It should be noted that Franco is still 20 years old and does not turn 21 until August so to say "some major deficiencies in his game, and only a few of them can improve with experience" as Law states in his article, seems premature. The deficiencies might not improve with experience but some coaching at this young age might be all he needs to make the adjustment.
I would trust some of the local scouts who see him on a nightly basis a little more than someone who watched him play one game on Saturday night.
On the other hand, it was nice to hear some good things about Dugan, who seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle of the Phillies prospects.
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