Prospect Nation 2012: #19 3B Maikel Franco – Phillies Nation
2012 Top 25 Prospects

Prospect Nation 2012: #19 3B Maikel Franco

Maikel Franco has quickly caught plenty of attention around minor league baseball. The Dominican Republic native, whose name is pronounced similarly to Miquel, was signed by the Phillies in 2010 as an amateur free agent.

The 6-foot-1-inch 180-pounder began his pro career with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2010. As that club’s everyday third baseman, Franco posted respectable numbers for a 17-year-old making his professional debut (.222/.292/.330). It was Franco’s defense, however, that immediately began to get him noticed. With excellent reflexes and a top notch arm at the hot corner, Franco impressed many in his U.S. debut.

A year later, Franco began the season in extended spring training and later competed with the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters. The righty hitting Franco looked great against NY-Penn League competition, posting 2 homers, 28 RBI and a .274/.339/.389 line in 42 games before earning a promotion to Class A Lakewood.

As an 18-year-old in the South Atlantic League, the baby-faced Franco struggled mightily. In 17 games for the BlueClaws, the Dominican born prospect went 8-for-67 (.123 avg) and racked up a weak .349 OPS. The Phillies realized Franco was overmatched and that he was growing discouraged, so he was re-assigned back to Williamsport, where he finished the season by batting .333 with 7 extra base hits and 10 RBI over his final 13 games with the Crosscutters.

One definite plus about Franco’s time with Lakewood was that he made no errors in those 17 games. However, striking out 15 times while walking only once in 17 games for the ‘Claws, compared to 30 K’s and earning 25 free passes in 54 games for the ‘Cutters screamed of Franco not being quite ready for the older pitchers of the SAL.

With no career stolen base attempts in two pro seasons, speed is not a facet of Franco’s game.

Mickey Morandini, who managed Franco with Williamsport in 2011 and will surely be reunited with him in Lakewood in 2012, as Morandini was promoted up a level this off-season, describes Franco as being relied on as a middle-of-the-lineup RBI guy. Morandini feels Franco projects as a power bat, as he fills out physically and climbs the developmental ladder.

Still very young – 19 years old until the end of August – Franco is in a great spot to land among the top tier of prospects if he can prove himself offensively at the full season Class A level this year.


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

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  1. Chris

    January 28, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I think this is quite low for Franco. He’s one of their highest upside position players in the system


    January 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Hopefully Franco will develop into a decent hitter . Fingers crossed as we will need some talent at third base soon.

  3. davehist

    January 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    We’ll be happy with the great defense, and hope that his hitting comes along. There’s definitely a spot for a young and talented third baseman at Citizens Bank Park.

    • Chris

      January 28, 2012 at 7:33 pm

      He’s already a pretty good hitter. In the NYPL he had a .778 OPS. and about as many walks as K’s. Yeah he wasn’t that good at Lakewood but he’s still really young. And the experience he had there helped him out when he got back to the NYPL. he was taking more walks and hitting the ball hard.

  4. Bruce

    January 29, 2012 at 1:16 am

    I thought I ask this question out of curiosity. Would Maikel be related in any way to Julio Franco? Julio did played briefly in his first season as rookie for the Phillies. Of course, he went on to have great career ending in 2007 at age 49!

  5. brooks

    January 29, 2012 at 8:02 am

    I really don’t know what to expect this year – the last few years were filled with expectations and then disappointments. This year there are more questions than the last 4 combined (except for pitching of course).

    Who will take over first until Ryan comes back?
    Who will be in LF?
    The inevitable – have we seen the end of the Utley era or can he come back for more of 30/100/.300?
    How long will Poly last before he goes down?
    Who will take over for Poly (I am supposing Wiggington)?
    Will JROLL and Utley last for more than 130 games?
    Was what we saw in Jr a mirage or is he for real?
    Will Brown ever live up to the hype?
    Is there a chance for Juan Pierre?
    When Howard does come back, should there be any expectations?
    Will we see the steady progress for Pence’s improvement?
    Will Papelbon dominate the 9th inning?

    I think that the outcome of any of those questions will have quite an impact on the season.

    Less impact yet still important –
    Is there a viable option in case Chooch goes down? Sorry, Schnieder cannot be consided mid to long term, no way.
    Who will be the #5 starter?
    What will Worley do as a follow up? My observation is that the second half of the season, he seemed to have better control of his pitches but the end results were not as good.

    Bottom line is I don’t know what to expect – other than a class performance by the Doc and gritty performances by Hamels and Lee (OK, if all stay healthy!). I will not put myself in the position that I did for the past few years – if we win it all, excellent and I will be there – if we don’t – it will be fun all the way and I will be there again next year.

    • Chuck A.

      January 29, 2012 at 9:11 am

      You don’t know what to expect???

      If people can’t see that the Philies are an improved team… least on paper….then they haven’t been paying attention or are just overly pessimistic.

      I expect the Phillies to compete for the division and make the playoffs. Of course, once in, it’s a crapshoot….as we’ve seen in the past two years

      • brooks

        January 29, 2012 at 9:43 am

        Ah Chuck, you know I expect a winning season and a lot of fun. And you know I pay attention and you know I’m not pessimistic.

        You probably stated it best, the Phils will compete for the division and make the playoffs – I have been way guilty of higher expectations in the past few years though and suffered as a result.

        I think the questions are legitimate ones.

      • George

        January 29, 2012 at 10:20 am

        These are definitely legitimate questions, although I’m not certain that there are more of them than in seasons past, I think some aren’t very important, and some of the “less important” ones are actually the most important.

        In the first group, I think worrying about Pierre is not so big a deal. He’s a minor league signing. Brown also probably won’t have much impact, either, unless he startles everyone in spring training. Also, “who plays left” is no more important than “who plays right” was last year. I also believe that should some players suffer injuries, the front office kept ahead of the matter by signing much better reserves.

        To me, the most important issues will be:
        1. Can Worley come close to last year’s performance? If not, the team has two possible holes in the starting rotation, given the questionable status of Blanton as the #5. The Phils actually started last year with a better projected rotation. The questions arose a few weeks in.
        2. Is Mayberry’s performance “a mirage?” If it was, there’s definitely a hole in left.
        3. There is no backup plan for Ruiz, and catcher is a very strenuous position.

        Last year, it was “who takes over for Utley,”” what about Lidge,” who plays right,” “will Rollins suffer his usual hamstring problems,” “will Howard learn to hit breaking balls?” and “will Ibanez be any good?” There was also the same questionable backup to Ruiz, and the bullpen in general was considered a black hole, what with the likes of Baez and Walk Machine Romero. That team went on to win 102 games.

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    April 8, 2012 at 12:53 am

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