It just never stopped raining hits at Brighthouse last night. Everybody hit as the Threshers kept hitting mostly line drives and ended tying a Florida State League record with 27 hits in only eight innings of at bats. They scored single runs in the first four innings before putting up their first crooked number in the fifth inning and pulled away from the Daytona Cubs 15-5 by scoring at least one run in every inning.
A less than effective Perci Garner picked up his second win but unlike his previous two starts he struggled but settled down to get the win as he toughed out 5.2 innings of work. Unlike his first start of the season at Brighthouse Perci was up in the zone and his fastball caught too much of the plate at times but he still struck out five to continue his strike out an inning pace this season.
It was all well and good to rack up all those hits and runs last night but the night before the Threshers pitching was so ineffective that position player Brock Stassi had to come to pitch the ninth inning to finish up an 8-1 loss. Yet it was that game that told me more about a prospect than did his getting four hits in the 15-5 win.
I really believe the Threshers have only one player who is a definite major league prospect in their line up, third baseman Maikel Franco. However, what Franco did Monday night, not last night, caught my attention. He went only one for four on Monday but hit the ball hard to all fields. His first at bat was a line drive single to left. Then he drove a ball up the middle but the D-Cubs who played the Threshers at home last week played the second baseman behind second base. Franco was thrown out. In his other at bats, though he grounded out, he hit the ball to the first baseman. Eventually teams will have to play him without a right-handed version of the Ryan Howard shift if they try to pitch him outside because he can go the other way if they pitch him away. Plus he will take a walk if the pitch is too far off the plate.
Franco has been on a hot streak. Over the last ten games he has hit .364 with two home runs and 13 RBIs for a .417 OBP and a 1.076 OPS. Last year with Lakewood Maikel got off to a slow start at the plate but this year out of the gate he is on fire. Always a good hitter with runners in scoring position, his RISP average is .389 after the first twelve games of the FSL season.
I always judge a player by asking myself “was he worth the price of admission” that game. Maikel Franco has been worth much more than my season ticket price of admission for each Clearwater home game of $3.57. Franco is playing only at baseball age 21 this season but the way he is playing should give him the opportunity to move up to AA Reading by mid season if he can continue with his strong defense at third and, depending on the pitch, driving the ball hard to all fields hitting third in the Clearwater line up.