Hello "breakout season." I'd like to introduce you to Maikel Franco.
Are we getting ahead of ourselves a bit? Yeah sure, but when all you have is to watch the growth of young players, watching them succeed, even early in meaningless spring training games, is exciting.
And ho boy, is Maikel Franco making people think excited thoughts.
One day after hitting this bomb against the Yankees for his first exhibition season homer...
Franco did this in Friday's contest against the Atlanta Braves.
Someone please check to make sure no one was killed in left field.
Franco would later add an RBI single, a laser beam ripped into left field, giving four RBIs and a 2-for-3 day at the dish. But it was more than just the fact he produced a quartet of runs at the plate. ESPN's Jayson Stark said this on their website about Franco...
Maikel Franco just pounded his second home run in two days. He now has more homers this spring (2) than strikeouts (1) in 11 plate appearances. "If Maikel Franco plays 150 games," said one scout, "there's no doubt in my mind he'll hit 35 home runs."
I couldn't agree more. But it's not just that he's hitting home runs against Double-A pitching right now. It's the way he did it.
In the at bat in which he hit his three-run bomb, Franco showed excellent patience at the plate, getting ahead 3-0 in the count. He then took a borderline strike and looked for a pitch to hit ahead in the count 3-1.
And you see what he did with it.
Sometimes, plate discipline is more than just learning how to take walks. It's learning how to get into a count in which a pitcher must throw a fastball. The batter must then decide to look for that fastball in a specific location. If he gets the fastball, but not exactly where he wants it, he has to be OK with going to a full count and getting another hack.
We've seen Franco grow in this regard ever since he was called up last season. And we saw it on Friday against the Braves.
Of course, spring stats are meaningless. How often have we seen players have hot spring trainings and then do absolutely nothing when the regular season starts?
But there is real reason to believe Franco is going to be that 35-homer, 100 RBI guy the Phillies so desperately need in the middle of that lineup.