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Prospect Jam at the Hot Corner for Phillies

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sat, July 06, 2013 09:55 AM | Comments: 20
Fightins, IronPigs, Minor Leagues, News, Posts, Prospecting

MaikelFranco

Maikel Franco is on the rise, image- Jay Floyd

Third base has been a troublesome offensive spot for the Phillies over the last decade. A homegrown prospect hasn’t graced the hot corner for the Fightins since 2002, when the club dealt former second-round pick Scott Rolen. In the years since that swap, Phillies third basemen have lacked the usual power that comes from third base.

During a period when the big league team enjoyed five straight division titles and a couple of World Series bids, the void at third base didn’t stand out very much because of all the offense posted by nearly every other position on the field. But as players around the diamond have declined, the lack of pop from the hot corner has been more apparent.

Over the past decade the Phillies for the most part used Placido Polanco, David Bell and Pedro Feliz — a group that posted weak stat lines compared to MLB averages from 3B over the same stretch.

Since the Phils traded away Rolen, the 29 other teams have roughly averaged a .262 batting average, while tallying 261 homers and 1,119 RBI from their third basemen. The Phils’ talent at that position has delivered a .256 average with just 150 total home runs and 927 total RBI.

On the way to the rescue is a pair of prospects that have swiftly risen through the Phillies’ developmental ranks. With Triple-A All-Star Cody Asche and Futures Game representative Maikel Franco pounding opposing pitchers for their respective teams, the Phils could soon be faced with a problem they’ll enjoy hashing out — having two ascending stars make a push for a starting role at the big-league level at once.

But, will the Phillies, as a precaution, make a move to prevent any crowding at third base?

“Right now, I don’t think so,” Reading manager Dusty Wathan said of the possibility of the Phillies forecasting a change of positions for either Asche of Franco, to prevent a conflict at the position at the top level of the Phils’ organization. “I think we’re happy with both their development. They’re at two different levels. It could be a problem that we have in the future, hopefully, in the near future, that they’re both knocking on the door to be in the big leagues and we’ll have to figure something out. But, at this time, there’s not really any talk about moving either one of them off of third base.”

And while there may not be discussions that the Phillies are willing to share with the media and players, it would be foolish for the team’s director of player development, Joe Jordan, and other members of the Phils brass to not have a game plan in mind, as the clear goal for both players is to have them holding down a spot in the Phillies’ lineup going forward for the foreseeable future. So, the smart bet would be that the Phillies will be trying one or both guys elsewhere around the diamond at some point.

Franco, who plans to play in the Dominican Winter League this coming off-season, would be excited for the challenge of shifting to another defensive spot, if the Phillies asked. Winter leagues are a fine spot for trials and practice at new positions, as slugger Darin Ruf learned last year, using time with La Guaira in Venezuela to build his defensive skill set in the outfield.

“When [I] was young [I] played shortstop, but I moved to third base when I signed with the Phillies,” Franco stated. “I think I could try to play shortstop up here, or something, outfield, you know what I mean?”

Franco, 20, was signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic at the age of 17 in January 2010. The right-handed batter has posted strong numbers this season, hitting .319 with 20 home runs and 63 RBI through 79 combined games at Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading.

Cody Asche looks forward to getting a taste of the majors, image- Jay Floyd

Asche, the Phils’ fourth-round draft choice in 2011 out of the University of Nebraska, is batting .284 with eight homers and 49 RBI through 83 contests with Lehigh Valley this year. The 22-year-old played second base with the short-season A level Williamsport Crosscutters upon making his pro debut a couple years back. Both players, each of whom stands 6-foot-1 and weighs around 180 pounds, are praised for their quick hands and good instincts on defense.

In an interview this past pre-season, the lefty batting Asche addressed changing positions as something that would be welcome if it helped him reach the big leagues. At this point in the season, however, Asche seems a bit less enthused about the subject.

“As of right now I am a third baseman, so that’s what I’m going to focus on getting better at,” Asche said on Friday.

If Franco is to move to shortstop, or Asche is to switch to second base, or either tries any other position, it’s not just the other man that they’d be trying to avoid a conflict with. The Phillies have some other prominent infield prospects that have already spent some time with the big club. Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez are close to being able to help the major-league team on a long-term basis.

Asche, a Missouri native, certainly seems to appreciate the overall games of his potential competition.

“Those three all are very good players,” Asche asserted. “It’s fun to watch all of them play. They, all three, are good teammates and play the game the right way.”

No matter where each individual plays, the Phils surely have a nice collection of young talent on the rise and the future is bright at a position that has been a considerable concern for quite some time.

Now just imagine what the future of the infield might look like had the Phils never dealt Jonathan Singleton!

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About Jay Floyd

Jay Floyd has written 663 articles on Phillies Nation.

Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation's minor league insider. You can read more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 bacardipr

    I wonder if they will try and move either two to a different position. Since Maikel apparent emergence might be beneficial for Asche to possibly play another position. The article didnt take into account that Feliz and Polly where exceptional fielders. As well not looking at any stats but it seem Feliz had a penchant for delivering that hit in crucial situations.

     
  • Posts: 0 block215

    Singleton is struggling in the minors….

     
    • Posts: 312 Jay Floyd

      Avatar of Jay Floyd

      .611 OPS as a 21-yr-old in his first 21 games at Triple-A….I’d say Singleton is doing okay, especially since he missed 50 games this year.

       
    • Posts: 104 loupossehl

      Avatar of loupossehl

      Yes, I would like to see Jonathan Singleton struggle his way right back into the Phillies organization. Unfortunately, that is not about to happen. We bet the farm – or a good piece of it – and came up short.

       
      • Posts: 0 G7

        Singleton Not showing a lot of pop, which means he is still a ways away..

         
      • Posts: 104 loupossehl

        Avatar of loupossehl

        As to that “missing in action” first baseman: perhaps that’s where Darrin Ruf comes into the picture. A future infield, around the horn, of Asche – Galvis (if he can hit!) – Franco – Ruf would be a home-grown solution that’s actually looking pretty good, despite the fact that we’ve depleted the farm system.

         
  • Posts: 0 Robotski

    After their “Out of Contention” Sale is completed, both Franco and Asche should be with the Phils. Enough wasting time in the Phillies farm system. I like Franco’s flexibility and willingness to learn another position. Hopefully that mature attitude will continue when he makes it to the majors. Mr. Asche needs to copy that page out of Franco’s book.

     
    • Posts: 62 Alex Lee

      Avatar of Alex Lee

      Bringing Franco up now is not a good idea. Second half of 2014 at best, and that’s if he continues to hit from now to then.

       
    • Posts: 0 G7

      If current stretch continues there won’t be a sale..

       
      • Posts: 0 c. schreiber

        Drinking the red kool aid,hey 7!!

         
  • Posts: 0 Fred Fink

    Jim Murphy looks like our 1st baseman of the future. Asche, Galvis, and Hernandez are only so so. Murphy and Franco would look good in the same lineup as they are doing at Reading.

     
  • Posts: 0 bacardipr

    Too soon for Franco to be called up.

     
  • Posts: 0 Hogey's Role

    There’s a lot of good young talent in our farm system with Joseph, Hernandez, Franco,asche, Quinn… that could be the infield right there,I realize Quinn is a little further away, move Franco or asche to first, then there’s Brown and revere in the outfield… it’s a pretty decent young group, still need some work but they have promise…

    I’m not sold on Galvis at all…

     
  • Posts: 312 Jay Floyd

    Avatar of Jay Floyd

    Um….Jim Murphy is not to be counted on as a future big leaguer. He’s 27.

    For @G7…saying that Singleton isn’t showing a lot of pop is clearly ignoring the 10 extra base hits he had in 17 games prior to arriving at the Triple-A level AND ignoring that he’s 21 and has been in Triple-A for just three weeks. How many 21-yr-olds are going to show more pop than the three doubles and a homer he’s posted in his first 21 games there? Very, very few.

     
    • Posts: 0 jobangone

      Your talking about Singleton as though he were relevant.

       
      • Posts: 0 Charlie

        Singleton is far more relevant than Ruf. He is young and has talent. Ruf on the other hand has no future in Philadelphia, and it’s a joke that people continue to write him into the future of the franchise.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        From the perspective of the Phillies, Singleton is only relevant as an object lesson in what not to do at the trade deadline.

        He was only brought up as a case of “what might have been”.

        From a general MLB perspective, Singleton is very relevant, since his chances of having a successful major league career are orders of magnitude better than those of Ruf,.

         
    • Posts: 0 DavidE

      Regarding Murphy and Ruf, Eric Kratz was 31 years old when he came up and made an impact. Sometimes these older players will play very well for a few years. Is Kratz a future HOF player. No. But he has given the Phillies a pretty good bat in the lineup and off the bench the last couple years. The player doesn’t have to be a superstar. If Ruf can come up and give the team some hits, that would be helpful.

       
  • Posts: 0 PhillsPhaninNorthJersey

    Plus we also have no indication on the talent that Crawford might be once he gets in the system and starts playing pro ball. I think for once we are acutally deep at the hot corner and remaining parts of the infield where in the past we only had outfield prospects. I think if we do deal Lee, which is almost a given at this point we should try and obtain some pitching prospects to Biddle

     
 
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