Is Maikel Franco Getting Close to a Call Up?
"He's getting closer and closer," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said before Monday's game with the Pirates. "Continues to do very well. We just want to make sure he's ready to be a big leaguer for a long time when we bring him to the big leagues."
After the game, the Phillies decided that sending Cody Asche down to triple-A Lehigh to work on playing left field now was the right decision and it will make room for Franco on the big league roster. Franco is expected to be promoted from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to Philadelphia on Friday.
"Going forward as an organization, it’s better for me to play left field," Asche told reporters after the Phillies loss on Monday night. "So I’ve got to go do that."
Asche has been sent down in order to begin making a transition to left field. Meanwhile, Franco hit his fourth home run of the season for Lehigh Valley tonight upping his batting average to .341 on the season, the home run was his fourth of the season.
The move makes sense on the field, in a game where promotions get dictated by service time and how long a team can control you before you hit free agency.
In recent weeks, Cody Asche has been taking reps in left field, that coupled with just four hits over 33 at-bats this month has Franco penciled in at third base sooner rather than later.
"At this point there isn't that much to lose other than what do you do with Cody Asche," ESPN.com senior baseball writer Jayson Stark said on the Sports Bash. "I know that coaches believe that Cody Asche moving to left is the way to go if he can demonstrate that he is comfortable there. But he has only been taking fly balls for a little while."
The Phillies played Ben Revere in right field last week which could have been the Phillies first sign that they are ready to move Asche to left field, and play Franco at third when the team calls him up.
"Ben Revere in right is not the ideal solution," Stark said. "But it's one of the possibilities."
The Phillies can push Franco's free agency one more year if they wait to call Franco up after May 15th which is Friday.
Meanwhile, Phillies prospect Aaron Nola won his third start in a row Sunday for Double-A Reading. The 21-year-old has allowed one run or fewer in four of his last five starts, but don't expect him to be pitching with the big club anytime soon - but a September call-up could be when we see Nola up with the big club.
"At some point this year he might (be up with the Phillies)," Amaro said.
The No. 7 overall pick in last year’s draft, is 4-2 with a 2.04 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP in six games this season at double-A Reading.
(Listen to ESPN.com Senior Baseball writer Jayson Stark talk Phillies)