Since being called up to the show, Maikel Franco has played in every inning of all 16 games with the Phillies. So far in his early campaign as a major leaguer, Franco has given the organization and the fan base a small sample size of what he can bring to the table. Going into Tuesday night’s game against the Cincinnati Reds, the young third baseman posted a not so impressive .194 average and a .339 slugging percentage, slumping over a 2 for 27 streak at the plate. Over his first nine games however, Franco put up good numbers; going 10 for 35 with four extra-base hits and two home runs.
It’s been a roller coaster start for Franco thus far, starting off hot, and then unfortunately sliding into a bit of a cold streak. Luckily for him, it didn’t take long to bust out of the slump as Franco injected some life into an offense that has struggled mightily. He belted a 2-run homerun off of Reds reliever Jumbo Diaz to tie up a game that was looking like it was going to be the Phillies eighth straight loss. Darin Ruf played hero later on, hitting his first career walk-off RBI, lifting the Phillies to a 5-4 victory. The very next day Franco was at it again. The Phillies offense looked bleak as they were on the verge of being victims of a no hitter by Reds pitcher Mike Leake. Franco broke that up with a hit but wasn’t done quite yet, as the Phillies third baseman crushed a three-run home run off Reds All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning to tie the game. The Phillies would win in walk off fashion for the second straight night, as fans got to leave Citizens Bank Park happy yet again.
“It’s a good feeling for the team,” Franco said. “When you make a great play, when you hit in the clutch, the team has more energy, more emotion.”
Along with his excitement at the plate, Franco has really put his stamp on each game playing the hot corner. There has been a handful plays where he made a tough catch and throw to either save a run and or a hit. Seeing that the organization has stuck with Franco as the every-day third baseman leads us fans to believe that the Phillies think they have something special here. We could possibly be witnessing an all star in the making, as he would be the first Phillies third baseman elected to the all star game since Placido Polanco in 2011.
Going forward, he is going to be an intricate part of the Phillies future while this grueling rebuilding process continues. Being paired up with more top-tier prospects that the Phillies could acquire by trading away veterans, will be key in Franco’s development. So far the core young players of Herrera, Asche, Galvis, and Franco looks promising, but to this point it is not enough to make any push for the NL East crown. For the time being, the Phils will play the role of cellar dwellers until this team finds the right mix of players that will put them over the top again.