Power emerging for Threshers' Franco
Phillies prospect has second two-homer game for Clearwater
By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com
Throughout the amateur ranks every year, there's no shortage of young players scouts can look upon and project for future growth.
So it's always exciting for a coach or talent evaluator when "power potential" starts to just become actual power.
Maikel Franco, who just two seasons ago slugged .360, continued to embody that transition Thursday, delivering his second two-homer game of the season and driving in three runs as Class A Advanced Clearwater beat Bradenton, 6-3.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound third baseman now has eight home runs this year and a .557 slugging percentage in 38 games.
"It's loud, he's got a loud bat, no doubt about it," said Threshers manager Chris Truby. "I mean the second home run he hit, that's a special sound.
"Since we've had him, he's gotten stronger and I think his plate discipline is a whole lot better than when we got him. It's a matter of experience. He has lightning quick hands, and when you combine that with just getting stronger it's made him a better hitter -- doubles and home runs are increasing with that."
The No. 11 Phillies prospect was signed by Philadelphia as an international free agent in 2010 and spent his first season in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, hitting .222/.292/.330 in 51 games. He made incremental progress the next year, hitting .287/.367/.411 with Class A Short-Season Williamsport in 54 games and getting a brief promotion at the end of the year.
Last season the power began to emerge more broadly as the 20-year-old hit .280/.336/.439 with 14 homers in 132 games for Class A Lakewood.
After his two-homer game Thursday, France sports a .291/.341/.557 line in 38 games with 16 doubles and 32 RBIs on top of the eight dingers. The gains in power are something Truby believes Franco will continue to consolidate.
"I don't think there's any doubt that he's gonna be a guy that should hit for a lot of extra-base hits," he said. "Lot of doubles, lot of home runs -- just a kind of middle-of-the-order type guy, a run producer. He's got that kind of ability."
On Thursday, Chris Serritella also went 3-for-4 with a double for the Threshers.
Gabriel Arias (5-1) picked up his fifth win, scattering three runs on three hits and three walks with six strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander has a 1.69 ERA in 42 2/3 frames this year for Clearwater. He's fanned 33 strikeouts and walked 12.