It was unanimous. I did not have to check with anyone. Maikel Franco is the Phillies Minor League Player of the Year. I thought it would be nice to announce the selection early since today, August 26th, is his 21st birthday.
Who can argue with Franco’s slash line of .314/.362/.562 in 126 games so far this season, combined between Clearwater and Reading. His 29 home runs and 98 RBIs lead the Phillies organization. Those are triple crown numbers in probably all minor league organizations.
Baseball Betsy and I were fortunate to see Mike play the first half of the minor league season in Clearwater where he bashed 16 long balls, hit .299 and was starting third baseman for the Northern Division in the Florida State League All Star game. He is even hitting for an higher average at AA Reading where he is hitting .329. Amazingly, he has struck out just 60 times in 546 plate appearances combined this season.
Even though he has had a strong arm and soft hands at third base this season he has been moved to first base in his last three games at Reading. No doubt the move was caused because of the strong play of Cody Asche at third for the Phillies. Also Franco now has a shot to play at first in the major leagues because of the physical breakdowns over the last two seasons by Ryan Howard.
With Franco in the same lineup with Darin Ruf the Phillies would have a nice balance of right handed hitters to go with Chase Utley, Domonic Brown and Asche from the left side. It’s clear the team needs a contingency plan if Ryan Howard is unable to stay off the disabled list during the next three years remaining in his contract.
We can only hope Franco is able to master first base quickly since he never played the position before until this weekend. If Maikel does master first base, he has earned the right to be a September call up from AA, just like Darin Ruf was last season, when the Phillies MLB roster was expanded.