The Philadelphia Phillies future looks bright. Over the past year, they have shipped aging superstars for a bounty of youthful prospects. But who will be the next face of the franchise?
Maikel Franco (Third-Base, Age 23)
Maikel Franco has been a breath of fresh air not for just this year but for finally seeing some young raw talent at the 3rd base position. He brings a powerful, free-swinging approach at the plate. An approach like this can make a stadium hold their breath for the next jaw-dropping slam. However, if Franco is going to be the face of the franchise he has multiple areas to work on. For starters, he has trouble hitting the curveball. This is something major league pitchers will expose especially next year after getting some video on him. The next biggest thing Franco struggles with is his defense. In 73 games started at 3rd base this year, Franco has committed 10 errors and has a fielding percentage of .942. The Phillies can go two ways with Franco. One keep him at third base and he improves defensively, or they could move him over to first base. Thus, hiding his defensive incapabilities.
J.P. Crawford (Shortstop, Age 20)
Rated the number one prospect in the Phillies minor league system could J.P. Crawford be the next great Phillies shortstop? Crawford has not been brought up to the majors, and as of right now it doesn’t seem like he will be up during September call-ups. Most have called him the heir apparent to take over the shortstop position now that Jimmy Rollins is gone. He provides not only an all-around offensive game but he can make a difference on defense as well. One of the best things about Crawford is his patience at the plate. In 98 games this year in the minors he has drawn 58 walks and struck out 48 times. Although Crawford most likely won’t reach Rollins defensive greatness he is no slouch in the field. Let’s not forget this KID – yes he’s only 20 years old – is currently playing at Double-A, and has already been to two Future Games.
Aaron Nola (Right-Handed Pitcher, Age 22)
Nothing short of amazing has Aaron Nola been for the 2015 Philadelphia Phillies. Nola was taken in the first round (7th pick) in the 2014 draft by the Phillies. He was drafted July 2014 and made his MLB debut one year later. Talk about striking gold on your draft pick. His pitching arsenal consists of a fastball, slider, curveball and change-up. All four pitches aren’t overpowering, but that’s not what type of pitcher Nola is. For being 22 years old, Nola shows tremendous poise and command on the mound. His stuff might not overpower hitters, but it doesn’t have to be when he can throw it anywhere he wants. When young pitchers first come up they usually do well because Major League hitters haven’t seen their stuff yet. In 2016, the real test will begin as MLB teams will have seen Nola pitch at the Major League level.
All three players have more than enough star-power to become the face of the franchise. It’s just a matter of who can handle the lights and pressure in Philadelphia.