One thing is clear: third baseman Maikel Franco is the organization's top prospect entering the season.
The 21-year-old is coming off of a strong 2013 in which he batted .320/.356/.569 with 31 home runs and 106 RBIs split between High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. In 69 Double-A games, he batted .339/.363/.563 with 15 home runs and 51 RBIs. He lead the organization in batting average, home runs, and RBIs en route to being selected as a Florida State League all star and a spot in the MLB Futures Game. He also won the 2013 Paul Owens Award as the Phillies' top minor league position player.
Franco's big 2013 earned him a spring training invite to Major League camp. He gets the opportunity to learn from the veterans currently on the Phillies 40-man roster and it is no secret the Phillies have plenty of veterans in camp.
It is also working in his favor that manager Ryne Sandberg stated that he is not writing Franco off to the minor leagues right away and stated openly there is a competition for the Phillies third base job with incumbent Cody Asche. Now, with that being said, it would be a surprise if Franco made the Major League roster and an even bigger surprise if he supplanted Asche this season.
Franco played some first base at the end of last season and the organization plans to try him at first base this season as well. Despite the trials at first base, Franco has the defensive ability, footwork and arm to remain at third base in the future.
The youngster's impact is with the bat. You don't hit .320 with 31 home runs and 106 RBIs primarily as a 20-year-old in High-A and Double-A if you are not a special hitter. He has quick hands and plus-power, grading as a 70 on the 20-80 scale, which helps project him as a future power-hitter at the Major League level.
He is aggressive which concerns some as he leaves himself susceptible to breaking pitches, particularly on the inside part of the plate. Franco was able to surprise scouts last summer as his aggression improved as did his walk rate while dropping his strikeout rate - all signs of a maturing player who will certainly make a difference as he continues to grow.
One thing of note when watching Franco is his ability to make contact and how consistently he hits the ball hard. He didn't show many signs of growing pains moving up to Double-A last season as he still made hard contact which helped keep his batting average high.
The Phillies could be grooming the organization's next great player and, to add to the already long list of positives about Franco, he is a right-handed power hitter which the organization so desperately lacks.
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