September is here, and you know what that means. Children are to be loaded onto their yellow transports for placement in the repurposing chambers. Coffee shops splash a few drops of Chemical compound CCX-117 "pumpkin spice" into your lattes. And baseball allows several of its select minor leaguers to catch a brief glimpse of a future that may never come.
The Phillies have a handful of interesting names to watch, as the September minor league call-ups occur across this devastating hellscape of modern life. But no one is more exciting than Maikel Franco, one of the few Phillies farmhands who has consistently appeared on top prospect lists and been singled out as a top member of the organization. MLB.com ranked him third in the Phillies organization behind J.P. Crawford and Aaron Nola.
Franco will reportedly become a Major League ballplayer this very week, possibly seeing time on the field in Atlanta as the Phillies play the Braves. The Inquirer's Matt Gelb is confident that he could get a start, and with the Phillies uninterested in changing Cody Asche's position, we'll get to see two third basemen of the future become third basemen of the present.
With Lehigh Balley, Franco has appeared in 132 games this season, logging 553 plate appearances. He hasn't had the most statistically thrilling season (.257/.298/.427, .324 wOBA), but with the dust settling, he's the team leader in runs (64), home runs (16) and RBI (78). His 133 hits have him tied for eighth in the International League, and as of late, he's been tearing it up, even hitting for the cycle just last week.
#Phillies Maikel Franco .310/.310/.600 over his last 100 plate appearances (AAA): 14 R, 31 H, 6 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 0 BB, & 16 K— Ace of MLB Stats (@AceballStats) August 27, 2014
Maikel Franco with a grand slam tonight. Over last 10 games, hitting .436 w/ 5 HR, 3 2B, 1 3B, 13 RBI. Slugging .640 over last 28 games— Corey Seidman (@CoreySeidman) August 27, 2014
While the Phillies play out the stretch, the September call-ups provide an uncommon purpose to watch them. Franco is among the exciting, growing number young players at the Phillies' disposal, and he could wind up making an impact sooner rather than later (like with Crawford and Nola).
Put the kids on the bus and then sprint home to buy that sweet, sweet Maikel Franco merch.