Clearwater Threshers starting pitcher Hoby Milner and third baseman Maikel Franco have been putting on a show of us to see all season. Last night in an almost perfectly played game they put on a show for Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. who is in town welcoming all the new Phillies draft picks to the organization. Or maybe it is that he just prefers to watch the Threshers play rather than the big team up in Minnesota. Can’t blame him for that!
In any event the Phillies GM was given a show to beat all baseball shows as the Threshers downed the visiting St. Lucie Mets 6-0 as Milner picked up his sixth win in his last ten starts and Franco hit two homers including his third, three run homer game of the season.
On observer remarked that “Milner looks like Hamels and pitches like Lee”. He gave up his first walk in his last three starts with two out in the top of the eight to go with giving up only one hit just before leaving the game with a brilliant one hitter. He just has such good command of his fastball, slider, curve and change-up. And he seems to get stronger as the game goes on. Milner has just finished up, what has to be ranked, as one of the better ten game consecutive starts in minor league history going 6-0 with a 1.72 ERA, striking out 60 in 62.2 innings to go with a strong 0.92 WHIP over that time.
Of all of Milner’s excellence during his last ten starts, the most impressive period has been over his last three starts in 21.2 innings of work up until the top of the eight with two outs last night he had struck out 20 without giving up a walk. He just keeps looking more and more impressive.
Hoby has certainly looked more impressive than former major leaguer Carlos Zambrano and rehabber John Lannan who pitch here in Clearwater for the Threshers in games during the last two weeks. But he is only 22 years old in his second year in the Phillies system since coming out of the University of Texas in last year’ s draft.
Franco who might be called “Mike” but reminds me more of another former Phillie great who started at third base Dick “Richie” Allen by the way he swings his bat. But he fields more like Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt at third. Mike hit a solo shot to left to give the Threshers a 1-0 lead in the third inning and then went the other way to right with a three run blast to break open a 2-0 game in the seventh for a four RBI night.
Franco’s three run homer was the third, three run homer game I have seen him hit this season to bring his total homers to 14 in 62 games this season. Last year at Lakewood he hit only 14 in 132 total games. With the Florida State League season nearing the half way point Franco is on pace to hit 30 homers runs and drive in over 100 runs if he stays here. Not bad for a guy who is only a of months older than the Nationals much heralded Bryce Harper. And on Saturday he gets to compete in the Florida State League home run hitting contest and then the All Star game.
After last night’s game Milner and Franco have little left to prove in High A ball. It’s time for them to move on up to either AA or AAA soon and eventually to the Show by the season’s end as the Phillies need to rebuild with the likes of them. Last year Cody Asche was move to Reading from Clearwater soon after he played in the FSL All Star game and now plays in AAA. Let’s hope that the same reward awaits Hoby and Maikel this year. They deserve it!