- Maikel Franco
- Zach Green
- Jan Hernandez
- Mitch Walding
- Damek Tomscha
- Harold Martinez
Perhaps you may or may not of heard of this Maikel Franco kid. He was the Phillies top ranked prospect going into the 2014 season. He broke out offensively in 2012 with Lakewood. Following that season, he opened even more eyes by hitting 31 homers and slashing .320/.356/.569 across two levels in 2013. With recent graduate Cody Asche getting a shot at handling 3rd base duties this season, Maikel Franco was allowed to hone his game in Lehigh Valley, waiting for his opportunity. Maikel wound up playing 133 games this season in Lehigh, to which many would deem unsuccessful. His K% and BB% remained steady, but his bat became more exposed and saw his average drop to .257. What happens when you aren't seeing the ball well? Your power goes down. This probably worried most fans, but I'll vouch to say Franco still has a bright future with this team and that time is probably relatively soon. Cody Asche probably didn't do much to help his case in keeping his job at 3B, but I believe he should get another half season to do so. Franco just turned 22 and has plenty of time. Would I love it if he could plays some first base to begin the season? Sure, but some guy named Ryan Howard has entrenched himself under piles of money and poor productivity to allow for that. Franco's 16 game (58 plate appearance) MLB debut was interesting. The bat was a bit behind (1 walk to 13 strikeouts) going 10 for 56. There has been much speculation that Franco's defense at 3rd would be average, but my eyes were telling me he should be fine. Franco is still easily a top 3 prospect in the system and a top100 prospect in baseball. Deep breaths and remember he is still just 22 years old.
The next 3 names are interesting, in their own weird way. Zach Green is likely my favorite, a 3rd rounder from the 2012 draft. He helped set a (then) HR record (13) for Williamsport in 2013. He is average to above average defensively at 3rd base and saw significant time at 1st base this past season. He began his 2014 campaign with a hip injury. Upon returning to the lineup full-time in June saw him break out once again. He had a down month in July, but finished with a strong August. He is one of those guys that may not stick at 3rd base, but for the time being should be given a shot.
Mitch Walding is likely the only guy in the way from Green from starting every day at 3rd next season. Walding was a highly touted 2011 5th rounder who has great tools, but hasn't put them together yet. He showed flashes of those last year, but is still making a ton of mistakes in the field and not enough solid contact. He did sport a .320 BABIP on the season, so he was making solid contact despite the .237 average. There might still be hope for the 22 year old.
Jan Hernandez is super talented in terms of tools, but they are so raw that the progression has been a little frustratingly slow. He has been error prone and very poor contact at the plate. He is still 19 years old, but he has to make a lot of improvements going forward, unless he wants to end up like Harold Martinez.